The fall 2023 collections debuted just as dynamics in the workplace are beginning to shift again. With employers — facing a potential recession and, in many cases, cutting jobs — further urging workers to return to the office and a further sense of normality, attention is being paid to money — how it’s earned and what to wear to earn it.
On the fall runways this translated to a predominance of tailoring. But unlike in recent seasons, leisurely cuts fell by the wayside as designers favored a sharp-shouldered silhouette resembling bankers’ uniforms or the power shoulders of the ’90s.
At Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton borrowed from the late house founder’s Savile Row roots to come up with some of the strongest suits of the season. Her jackets featuring lapels that twisted around the neckline and flap pockets accenting the hips were about the “anatomy of clothing,” she told WWD, “revisiting construction of garments then tearing it apart and subverting it.”
Gabriela Hearst sent out an equally empowering collection for Chloé, explaining that due to the current financial distress, “we need more [female] bosses right now, everywhere.” Details, like ancient-looking gold coin buttons on peak-lapel blazers, took cues from a biblical girl-boss, Queen Esther, who risked her life to save the Jewish people of the Achaemenid Empire.
Where Burton and Hearst stuck to traditional notions of “power dressing” with mannish trousers and a heavy dose of leather, Khaite’s Catherine Holstein took the theme a little less on-the-nose. By matching her structured jackets with wispy floor-length skirts, the designer proved there’s still room for a touch of softness in the boardroom.
Either way, according to Beth Buccini, owner and founder of Kirna Zabete, “the designers want women to go back to the office in suiting and pencil skirts looking like a million bucks.”