Is Couture Recession Proof? Your Guide To The S/S 23 Shows

by Joshua Graham on 20 January 2023

With 'recession-core' on the rise can we expect a more austre couture season or will it remain ostentatious? Here's your guide to the couture shows.

With 'recession-core' on the rise can we expect a more austre couture season or will it remain ostentatious? Here's your guide to the couture shows.

If you’re anything like me then you just can’t get enough of Emily in Paris. Sure, its obnoxious American protagonist and convoluted storyline might put a lot of people off, but any intellectual will know it’s chock full of nuance, critical cultural analysis, and of course, laughable looks. Titular character Emily Cooper’s overeager love of fashion results in many ostentatious sartorial moments completely removed from reality. Rather than being reminded of the hardships of everyday life, the Netflix series offers an escape through the perspective of its blissfully ignorant main character. This notion of escapism could also be said about the extravagance that defines the couture collections.

Fendi A/W 22 haute couture

Much like our favourite fictitious PR girlie, the upper-echelon clientele of Chanel and Fendi are likely not to feel the penny-pinching many of us do during this economic downturn which is sure to result in some fantastical collections. Or will this season be different? As our content editor extraordinaire Angel Nemov so eloquently put it in his TikTok recap of the Milan menswear shows, ‘recession-core’ is in full swing. That is, as we muddle through a cost of living crisis the ready-to-wear collections have reflected more austere styles. Only time will tell if the S/S 23 shows will look like the wardrobe department of Emily in Paris or reflect the troubling times we live in. No matter what side of the spectrum they fall under, here are the shows you won't want to miss.

Schiaparelli A/W 22 haute couture


While Emily Cooper is busy deciding between sexy chef Gabriel and dashing Brit Alfie, I’ll be busy lusting over Daniel Roseberry. Since becoming the artistic director of Schiaparelli in 2019, the gorgeous and talented Texan has transformed the maison with his contemporary take on surrealist couture. Defined by his grandiose silhouettes and heavy use of gold accessories (the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt), the upcoming collection will almost certainly fall under our category of escapist fantasy. Still, Roseberry could surprise us all come Monday with a stripped-back Schiaparelli, potentially setting the scene for a more restrained season.

Lùchen S/S 23


Monday also marks the couture debut of the New York City label Lùchen. A true ingénue compared to heritage houses of old like Dior, the brand was only founded by Parson’s graduate Lu Chen in 2021. Still, in that short time, she’s expertly crafted a visual language defined by experimental shapes and deconstruction. The brand’s S/S 23 collection opened with a layered ruffled wonder that our favourite PR girlie protagonist would be sure to throw on before a quick trip to the boulangerie. Though not shy when it comes to colour and texture, Chen’s intellectual approach to design is more akin to anti-fashion legends like Martin Margiela and Rei Kawakubo than the flouncy frou-frou of Giambattista Valli, making them a prime contender for pushing the recession-core agenda.

Jean Paul Gaultier A/W 22 haute couture


Another brand that could opt for a more subdued couture collection could be (surprisingly) Jean Paul Gaultier, who has enlisted Haider Ackermann as this season’s guest designer. A master tailor whose sultry silhouettes have relied on luxurious textiles like silks and velvets over ostentatious adornments, there is a severe lack of camp factor to Ackermann’s work making him the antithesis of Gaultier. Of course, with an immense archive for Ackermann to explore, it wouldn’t be too shocking for some of Paris’ OG enfant terrible to rub off on the Colombian-born designer. No matter what we see on Wednesday, we'll be covering it all in a live studio panel on Thursday 26 January at 11:30 GMT.


Finally, we have the much-anticipated couture debut of Robert Wun. Another brand that wouldn’t look out of place in the Emily in Paris universe, the Hong-Kong born designer’s aesthetic is defined by a fantastical approach with its fluid pleats and a vibrant colour palette that could only be categorised under escapist fantasy. A fixture on the red carpet, if you’re looking for realism you’ve come to the wrong place. Closing out the S/S 23 couture season, we'll have to wait and see whether Wun continues his exploration of the otherworldly or pulls back for a more realistic approach. I for one couldn't think of a better designer to dress Emily Cooper as an exotic bird as she flutters away from the foreboding pressures of reality.



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