This fashion month was an international battle cry among editors: enough with the catwalk gimmicks, please!
After Bella Hadid’s spray-painted Coperni dress broke the internet last season, every brand seemed to crave an OTT snack. Models walked away with tablecloths at (di)vision in Copenhagen, dresses splashed through the water at Susan Fang in London; and Coperni from Paris tried to recreate their thunder with robot dogs undressing models on the catwalk.
These show boats caught the eye during the AW23 collections. Heads instead turned to the distinctly duller, with a ton of beige and gray on the runway. The muted trend also trickled down the runway, with the style set opting for floor-skimming, camel cashmere overcoats, paired with vintage, stone-colored Celine bags. It’s official: fashion has entered the greigecore era.
Model and front row fixture Betty Bachz testifies to this month’s modest shift. “After a season of rampant viral moments, Barbiecore and bright colors, the return to muted monochromatic clothing was inevitable. The laws of physics dictate that with every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction,” she says. “Greige feels curated, sophisticated and contemporary – quintessentially Scandinavian.”
Some designers were outspoken in their decision making. Gabriela Hearst, whose latest Chloé collection was rooted in earthy cream, black and brown shearlings and leather, told reporters backstage, “I like that nothing is gimmicky.” Adding: “It’s not clothes for Instagram. I’m tired of working for Zuckerberg all the time – like, where’s my check?
At Balenciaga, after the December controversy surrounding child models in a campaign, designer Demna kept it simple and stripped back his show altogether. “Fashion has become a kind of entertainment, but that often overshadows its essence,” his show notes read. An understated collection of his recognizable, pointed-shoulder silhouettes was punctuated by choice or obligation with sand and silver-draped frocks and caramel-colored trenches with chevron scissors.
Meanwhile, London label ASAI, best known for its see-through tops with fluro panels, shifted to the tea-stained and muted. “It’s to be humble, against the show of wealth and vulgarity in a time of crisis,” says designer A Sai Ta. “The colors suggest a sense of the healthy, the calm, a moment of beauty in decline – minimal fashion has a deeper history.”
In recent years, Greige’s seduction of luxury fashion dates back to Phoebe Philo; namely her 2008-2017 tenure with Celine. There, clinically cut raw wool, felt and supple leather cultivated a voracious appetite for the basics. As if summoned, the enigmatic designer returns this year with her own label – die-hard fans will simply be hoping for more of the same.
“Beige, gray and greige are all basic tones that feel grounding, they also have a timeless quality that offers seasonal appeal and appeals to consumers looking for colors with long-lasting appeal,” said Clare Smith, color strategist at trend forecaster WGSN. “These colors reflect the need for balance, slow down, and reflect the pursuit of ‘just enough.'” Labels that built their name on minimalism are experiencing a renaissance, from Max Mara, Armani and The Row, all of whom produced monochromatic ocher collections, while Bottega Veneta and Miu Miu leaned heavily on the trend. The latter’s PFW closing show was almost a beige-out, capped off by none other than Emma Corrin in a fawn polo collar and sequined knickers.
“These shades are very chic and feel elevated — in reality, it’s a really easy way for men and women to dress because everything works together effortlessly,” says Natalie Kingham, fashion consultant and former purchasing director at Matches Fashion. “The colors can feel comforting and soft in difficult times.” It’s (finally) a fad made for everyday shoppers, too. The best high street minimalist looks are easy to find: COS, The Frankie Shop and Arket should be the first ports of call.
“I think greige can work from head to toe, but try a trench coat or jacket with a matching sweater as a starting point for the trend,” says Kingham. “Texture is a must, so silk and brushed fabrics keep it from looking dull.”