Runways are where trends are born, reborn, fortified, toyed with. Tuning into runway shows is often like pulling back the curtain into the future. It’s an exercise in fortune-telling, a glimpse into the colors, styling techniques, fabric textures that will fill retail stores and hopefully, our closets. But in a way, it’s also a reflection of larger things: changes in lifestyle, a shift in what people yearn for and desire, and how we view the world. Are we collectively bolder? Are we more courageous? Are we nostalgic? At Los Angeles Fashion Week, we got to hear some of those answers. (Psst: It was a resounding yes to all of those questions.)
Whether it’s a peeking thong or a sheer top moment, this season was all about flashing a bit of skin. Case in point: the looks sent down the runway by this year’s roster of both established and newly minted designers who hail from both near and far-flung corners of the world. And alongside those skin-baring numbers, we also saw some crafty, cobbled-together looks ushering in a new age of self-expression. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a look at some of the most prominent trends from the spring-summer 2023 season of LA Fashion Week.
Photography by Manny Llanura, MFA @mstrartist
1. Peek-a-boo undergarments
With the re-emergence of early 2000s fashion came a controversial trend: the so-called “whale tail.” This time around, however, it’s handled differently (sort of). High-strung thongs today are a little more tempered, a little more reserved, and dare I say, chic? At LA Fashion Week, Filipino designer Chris Nick sent a minimalist, mostly jet-black collection down the runway, chock-full of shimmer and structured silhouettes. Amongst those looks: a plain black thong peeking from a pair of low-slung, chunky-belted black pants. But thongs aren’t the only undergarments making an appearance. At AnOnlyChild’s show, we saw an all-white look, with boxer-like shorts worn under elegant, tailored pants (the way God and Miu Miu intended).
2. Low waistlines
You can’t have exposed thongs without another divisive trend — low-slung waistlines. At LA Fashion Week, designers were eager to showcase looks that flashed that slice of midriff. Los Angeles-based Revice Denim celebrated the trend’s comeback by taking it to new extremes. An inky, tie-dye set tested the limits of this daring look with an asymmetrical waistline that almost dipped to the upper thigh on one side. Another crop-top-and-jeans combo made good use of the moment with a stone-washed pair of slouchy jeans; so did ankle-grazing maxi denim skirts. If the prevalence of Y2K fashion artifacts — and their constant resurgence — proves anything, it’s that low waistlines are more than exercise in nostalgia. They’re here to stay.
3. Floral blooms
The flower has been making its way into runways over the past year, mostly in the form of rosette chokers, another ’90s accessory blooming back to life. But at LA Fashion Week, we saw different interpretations of these natural beauties. Dubbed “Wildest Dream,” Xiao Fen Couture’s collection was based entirely around the flower, borrowing elements from its petaled silhouettes and weaving them into a beautifully theatrical lineup of eveningwear. We saw an abundance of flower-dotted volume, ruffles, and gathered layers. So, why the flower? “Because that’s my wildest dream,” Xiao Fen told me post-show. “It’s the simplest thing in the world — the flower — but it kind of makes a fantasy.”
4. Naked tops
Didn’t I mention the season’s all about more, more, more skin? Reveal-and-conceal shirts are popping up (and staying) on runways, and LA Fashion Week was no exception. At AnOnlyChild’s show, Maxwell Osborne tapped into the trend in the form of lace tops paired with perfectly tailored pants and tiered, ruffled skirts. Manila-born fashion designer Francis Libiran showcased a decidedly seductive collection chock-full of art-deco embroidery, with a handful of pieces that flaunted, well, a little more. And later in the week, Gypsy Sport also showed a bit of diaphanous drama with sheer slips and other empowering see-through numbers.
5. Spliced, Patched, Paneled
Decisions, decisions — you don’t have to make them with two- (or sometimes three) toned, paneled constructions. Homespun-style patchwork pieces seeped through a multitude of collections. Attachments sent a few patched pieces on the runway, including a blazer that looked pieced, and cut and pasted together. Revice Denim took the trend to its trademark textile, mixing and matching different washes and even playing around with black-and-white leather. Is the “patchwork look” a call for resourcefulness? No mere exercise in nostalgia, perhaps it’s our collective push for a more sustainable fashion world — by transforming leftover bits of fabric into something beautiful and useful once again.