The Top 10 Fashion Moments of 2023

9 minute read

Fashion has always been a reflection of society, and 2023 was no exception. The sartorial moments that made a splash were a pretty good gauge of the things we couldn't stop talking or thinking about this year. In an uncertain world still recovering from the pandemic, rife with international conflict and at risk of global recession, economics often dominated the discourse, even when it came to fashion. How else to explain the obsession with quiet luxury in the early months of 2023, reinforced by the final season of Succession and a highly publicized trial for stealth wealth icon Gwyneth Paltrow?

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, the spending power of women was on full display with the run on themed outfits and merchandise this summer for the very pink Barbie movie, Taylor Swift's friendship bracelet-laden Eras tour, and Beyoncé's silver, disco-inspired Renaissance tour. The girl-power triumvirate was lauded for giving a much-needed boost to the global economy—and making everyone's closet a little pinker and a little sparklier.

Read more: 2023 Is One Big Costume Party

It would be impossible to ignore the ways in which fashion was also symbolic of the sizable shifts happening in society; the WGA and SAG strikes in Hollywood shut down red carpets in favor of picket lines. Meanwhile, an exodus of creative directors at designer fashion houses and the appointment of new, primarily white talent sparked much-needed conversations about representation in the industry, especially when it comes to leadership.

And while the standout events in fashion may have been emblematic of the weightier issues in the world, there were also plenty of moments of levity, like Rihanna announcing her second pregnancy with a showstopping all-red outfit during her Super Bowl halftime performance. And there were moments of pure viral delight, like Jared Leto dressing as Choupette, Karl Lagerfeld's cat, for the Met Gala or the viral tale of a woman whose one-night stand absconded with her Margiela Tabi shoes before ghosting her, forcing her into the role of amateur sleuth to get them back and making her a heroine to the disgruntled fashionistas of the Internet.

Here, the top 10 fashion moments that defined the year.

Rihanna announces her pregnancy at the Super Bowl halftime show

Rihanna performs during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show
Rihanna performs during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 12, 2023.Kevin Sabitus—Getty Images

Leave it to Rihanna to use one of the biggest stages in the world to announce her personal news. The bad gal announced her second pregnancy with her partner, rapper A$AP Rocky, while headlining the Super Bowl halftime show in February, and she did it in style. Clad in a custom all-red Loewe flight-inspired jumpsuit with a gleaming metallic breastplate, an Alaia jacket, and Margiela x Salomon sneakers, the singer used her outfit to showcase a growing baby bump, which she emphasized by gently touching her stomach during the performance. The gesture was subtle, but set off an online firestorm of speculation, which, in turn, sparked its own backlash about whether or not netizens of the Internet should be speculating about a woman's body. As always, Rihanna emerged from the buzz triumphant, confirming the pregnancy through a rep following the show.

Read more: The Subversive Brilliance of Rihanna's Super Bowl Halftime Show

Cats were the hottest costume at the Met Gala

Jared Leto, dressed as Choupette, attends The 2023 Met Gala
Jared Leto, dressed as Choupette, attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, on May 1, 2023.Dimitrios Kambouris—The Met Museum/Vogue/Getty Images

While Karl Lagerfeld's complicated legacy as one of fashion's most opinionated talents was a point of discourse during the 2023 Met Gala, one point that everyone could agree on was that Choupette, Lagerfeld's pampered blue-cream Birman cat, was one of the most influential figures of the night. Stars like Doja Cat and Lil Nas X channeled Choupette with their designer looks, donning cat ears, and in Doja's case, prosthetics, for a feline look. (She also responded to interview questions by purring.) Jared Leto upped the ante by interpreting Choupette's look literally, showing up to the gala in a full cat costume.

Quiet luxury dominates the discourse

Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy in Season 4 of “Succession.”
Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy in Season 4 of “Succession.”David M. Russell—HBO

Quiet luxury emerged as the top trend at the start of 2023, sparking countless conversations about the presentation of wealth and class along with it. It was fueled by the final season of Succession, a show on which Shiv Roy's stealth-wealth power dressing has long embodied the qualities of quiet luxury (minimalist clothing, fine tailoring, and tasteful, obscenely expensive accessories) as well as the highly publicized ski trial of Gwyneth Paltrow, where the actor and Goop founder, long notorious for her patrician tastes, sported a number of understated designer outfits that went viral on social media.

The very pink Barbie takeover

Actress Margot Robbie attends a press conference for Barbie
Actress Margot Robbie attends a press conference for Barbie in Seoul, on July 3, 2023.Han Myung-Gu—WireImage/Getty Images

If you were looking for a visual manifestation of the reach of Barbie, the undeniable blockbuster hit of the year, you'd need look no further than the proliferation of pink, from the runway to high street fashion. All shades of the rosy hue, from bubblegum pink to neon fuchsia, were spotted this summer, especially at movie screenings of the film, where viewers often dressed up in "Barbiecore," a.k.a. pink and often Barbie-inspired outfits. Of course, the most prominent ambassador of Barbiecore was Barbie star Margot Robbie, whose press tour outfits were replicas of famous Barbie looks throughout the years.

Read more: The Long, Complicated, and Very Pink History of Barbiecore

Swifties give new life to friendship bracelets on the Eras tour

Taylor Swift fans show off their friendship bracelets
Taylor Swift fans show off their friendship bracelets while riding the Metro Rail to pick up a free shuttle bus to SoFi Stadium to attend Taylor Swift Eras SoFi Stadium tour concert on Aug. 3, 2023.Gina Ferazzi—Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

While there are plenty of ways to identify a Taylor Swift fan, the most overt way may be to look at the stacks of colorful friendship bracelets adorning the wrist. This summer, as Swifties took over stadiums across the world, friendship bracelets that spelled out references to Swift's songs, albums or eras, were made and shared at concerts. It wasn't uncommon for fans to share their bracelets with complete strangers or venue staff; in fact, it became one of the most integral parts of the Eras tour experience, exchanging friendship bracelets with fellow fans. The trend was birthed from a single song lyric from "You're On Your Own, Kid," a track on Swift's 2022 album, Midnights: "So make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it," but has now become a such a Swiftie staple that there were reported bead shortages this summer.

Read more: Taylor Swift Is TIME's Person of the Year

Beyoncé sparks a silver revolution with the Renaissance tour

Fans pose for a portrait before entering Beyoncé‘s Renaissance World Tour
Fans pose for a portrait before entering Beyoncé‘s Renaissance World Tour in Inglewood, Calif., on Sept. 1, 2023.Jason Armond—Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Beyoncé's Renaissance tour was a celebration of disco and club culture and the fan looks more than reflected that. Concertgoers got decked out in all-silver and metallic looks, sparing no detail when it came to glitter, glitz, and sequins to attend Club Renaissance. Beyhive members also took cues from Queen Bey herself, accessorizing with bedazzled cowboy hats, in a nod to her Texas roots, and dressing in all silver, per her request, for her special birthday concert in Los Angeles.

The WGA and SAG strikes trade in red carpets for picket lines

Fran Drescher joins SAG-AFTRA and WGA Members and supporters as they walk the picket line
Fran Drescher joins SAG-AFTRA and WGA Members and supporters as they walk the picket line in support of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike on day two at the Netflix Studios in Los Angeles, on July 14, 2023.Michael Buckner—Variety/Getty Images

After both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA unions voted to strike this summer, red carpets and press tours came to a halt. Actors traded in their designer gowns and suits for union t-shirts and protest signs to join the picket lines alongside writers. Call it labor chic, but it was a fashion statement that held some real impact, as both unions ended their strikes with historic gains.

Julia Fox turned her book tour into a runway

Julia Fox is seen in New York City on Sept. 27, 2023.
Julia Fox is seen in New York City on Sept. 27, 2023.Jason Howard—Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

There may be no public figure of this generation as sartorially iconic and iconoclastic as Julia Fox. The actor, who went from downtown NYC It girl to internationally recognized celebrity after attending the Schiaparelli fashion show with some dramatic eyeliner, a very good outfit, and a controversial artist as arm candy, knows the power of presentation and isn't afraid to have fun or set tongues wagging with her daring outfits. Case in point? The tongue-in-cheek looks she's sported this year while promoting her memoir; from a cheeky Chopova Lowena schoolgirl-inspired look to an oversized Luar suit, Fox is one to watch.

Read more: Julia Fox Perfects the Art of the Overshare With Her New Memoir, Down the Drain

Changing of the guards at fashion houses sparks dialogue about diversity

Designer Tom Ford walks the runway at the conclusion of his fashion show
Designer Tom Ford walks the runway at the conclusion of his fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Skylight on Vesey on Sept. 14, 2022.JP Yim—Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

This year saw the exits of multiple creative directors from prominent fashion houses: Gabriela Hearst from Chloé, Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen, Jeremy Scott from Moschino, and Tom Ford from his eponymous label, to name a few. This industry shuffle sparked discourse about who the new guard of creative leaders might be. Given discussions in recent years about the need for more diversity in all positions in the industry, many saw this moment as an opportunity to put those intentions into action. However, when many of the new appointments came in, they were overwhelmingly white and male; at Kering, one of the biggest and most influential luxury groups in the world, all of the creative directors are now white men. The moves confirmed to those pushing for change from within and outside of the industry that there's still much more work to be done.

The Tabi Thief takes over the Internet

No story in the fashionsphere was as bizarre or captivating as the tale of the Tabi Thief. A TikTok user and knitwear designer named Lexus took to the platform to share the horrifying yet hilarious story of how a man she connected with on a dating app stole her Maison Margiela Tabi Mary Jane shoes then ghosted her. (For the uninitiated, Maison Margiela is one of the most coveted and avant garde fashion brands; a pair of their Tabi Mary Janes retail for over $1000.) As is to be expected, the story went viral, with disgruntled fashionistas across the Internet coming to Lexus' defense. Internet sleuths soon exposed the Tabi thief and Lexus was reunited with her shoes. At least there was one happy ending in a year full of fashion ups and downs.

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