If fashion is an expression of the times we live in, 2023’s biggest moments surely relayed the story of a world that celebrates individuality. There were narratives of both, empowerment and levity, heritage and contemporaneity, high-fashion and street style, low-key and luxe.
Polarising yet prominent, there was no dearth of stop-the-press milestones, as it should be in fashion. First, the Oscars and Met Gala, per usual, platformed many memorable looks.
Then, the Barbiecore frenzy drenched us in a sea of rose-tinted ensembles, and through the year Bollywood’s stylish set tantalised with their headlining outfits.
Runways and red carpets, to the weddings and shakeups in between, this was a banner year in fashion. Here, a look back at some of the most major sartorial snapshots as we look ahead to a stylish 2024.
Indian couturiers cement the country’s place on global fashion map
In an era that rewards instant gratification and celebrity spotting, couturiers continued to push the boundaries of fashion with their artistry and innovation in 2023. The year was monumentally big for Gaurav Gupta, who marked his foray in international couture by launching one of his most ambitious collections, ‘Shunya’ at the Paris Haute Couture Week in January 2023.
Rahul Mishra made a triumphant return to the French runway with his Cosmos-inspired outing titled, ‘We the People’—a beautiful homage to indigenous artisans at his atelier.
Falguni Shane Peacock, too, made a stylish comeback at New York Fashion Week after nearly a decade in September, with one of their most conversation-starting edits, ‘2.0’. Creatively directed by image architect Law Roach, their spring/summer 2024 showcase married Indian sensibilities with international appeal in the form of embroidered co-ord sets, gem-studded tailored separates, sparkly bodysuits, and sheer dresses.
Celebrity brides embrace their personality with their wedding outfits
Love was surely in the air with a number of celebrities tying the knot this year. And Bollywood’s brides had wedding trousseaus that spoke a language of its own. Some veered towards softer palettes, joining the quiet luxury movement that continues to entice the industry. Others broke new ground with hyper-embellished, hyper-personalised couture.
In February 2023, Kiara Advani walked down the minimal elegance aisle with her blush pink Manish Malhotra lehenga, which took 200 artisans over the course of 6,700 hours to complete.
On Valentine’s Day, Nataša Stanković and Hardik Pandya renewed their vows, where the bride leaned on old world sensibility by choosing a pristine gown by Shantnu & Nikhil, emblazoned with precious stones, pristine pearls and cloud dancer beads and featuring an inner skirt encased with a drape of Parisian satin.
In December 2023, actors Randeep Hooda and Lin Laishram sealed the deal in a traditional Manipuri ceremony. The bride honoured her roots by opting for a conventional bridal attire Potloi.
The age of Alia Bhatt
Alia Bhatt hoarded the spotlight with her debut at the Met Gala in May 2023, bringing her sartorial A-game to the steps in couture by Prabal Gurung. This year the theme paid a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, and her all-white gown was a chic tipping of the hat to the late veteran designer.
Featuring a sheer train, the elegance was accentuated with thousands of pearls, a recurring element in Lagerfeld’s oeuvre of work. The perfect finishing touch was edgy fingerless glove. In October, Bhatt repurposed her Sabyasachi wedding sari as she was conferred the Best Actor accolade at the National Film Awards 2023 ceremony held in Delhi. While it’s not uncommon to repeat outfits, she set a new precedent to restyle a bridal look.
International stars turn heads in creations by Indian designers
Fast forward to the end of March, the Ambani family established India's first-of-its-kind, multi-disciplinary cultural space project, Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) in Mumbai. The star-studded opening welcomed everyone, from Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra to Kiara Advani and Kareena Kapoor Khan.
Among the Bollywood royalty gracing the occasion were Hollywood celebrities such as Karlie Kloss, Emma Chamberlain and Penelope Cruz, all celebrating Indian savoir-faire. Gigi Hadid wore a slew of creations by Indian designers, but her ivory sari-drape two-piece by Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla stood out.
Zendaya opted for a midnight sky embroidered bralette and skirt by Rahul Mishra. In what can be the biggest cross-cultural collaboration between East and West was Beyoncé's Gaurav Gupta. The music icon wore the Neon Green Athena sari, a hooded, asymmetric structure that draped and flowed down from the midriff, in Atlanta in August 2023.
Barbiecore trickling over our feeds and wardrobes
In July 2022, when images of Margot Robbie decked up as Barbie hit the internet, there was no stopping the ‘think pink’ frenzy. Cut to July 2023, Robbie’s press tour for the film was pure bliss, as she delivered one vintage Barbie-inspired red carpet look after another. Closer to home, the power of pink continued to reign supreme with Bollywood’s A-listers dreaming up one statement looks, formal Barbiecore to a workout wonderland.
Priyanka Chopra was a vision in a deep-slit V-neck dress in the shade Valentino PP for the Valentino show. In contrast, Deepika Padukone took the trend to athleisure heights with her tee and shorts set from Adidas. Ananya Panday gave a lesson in Gen Z-forward dressing, with her blush mini dress with a cut-out at the waist.
It was Dior Day in Mumbai
On March 31, Dior decamped from Paris to Mumbai to present the house’s pre-fall 2023 collection staged en plein air against the historic backdrop Gateway of India monument. The spectacular show showcased the significance of Indian craftsmanship and creativity at the French brand, brought to life by the master artisans of the city’s famous Chanakya Ateliers with whom Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri has worked for over two decades. Of course, the occasion welcomed the best-dressed local and international stars. Anushka Sharma graced the event in full Dior style, wearing a canary yellow Lady Dior bag that cleverly complemented her sunshine-hued faille taffeta Dior column dress.
The OG champion of weaves, Rekha showed her signature style by sporting a vermilion and gold Kanjeevaram sari. A long-time patron of the house, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja selected a fluid silk shirt and dhoti-style draped skirt in an iridescent dusty pink, layered with an easy jacket. She paired the runway look with polki pieces from The Gem Palace and her mother’s personal collection.
Bollywood stars taking over the Oscars red carpet
All eyes were on the India-exclusive fineries and fits that punctuated red carpet events in 2023 -- from Academy Awards to Cannes Film Festival. Harnessing the platform’s power to both, make a sartorial statement and use the opportunity to promote our craft heritage, Bollywood’s It-girls put their best fashion foot forward.
Priyanka Chopra made headlines in a white KiraKira-friendly Falguni Shane Peacock ensemble for the pre-Oscars 2023 South Asian Excellence celebration. Deepika Padukone, who made her debut at the Academy Awards, channelled Audrey Hepburn elegance in an ebony Louis Vuitton gown with a mermaid silhouette and Cartier jewellery as she presented an award at the 2023 Oscars.
Celebrities strut at international film festivals
A number of Indian celebrities, filmmakers and brilliant artists also made the coveted Cannes Film Festival in May their playground. Anushka Sharma strutted in an off-shoulder cream embellished Richard Quinn gown. Embodying modern-day Indian princess was Sara Ali Khan in not one, but two Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla looks. She first wore a blush lehenga from the designer duo followed by a monochromatic creation with pearls. Mrunal Thakur walked onto the red carpet in three custom looks by leading Indian designers. Two custom Falguni Shane Peacock pieces, along with a bespoke hooded gown by Anamika Khanna.
Ranveer Singh redefines masculinity
For every fashion-forward It-girl, there were a few good (and ultra-stylish) men. Among them, Ranveer Singh ushered in a new sartorial high with his enviable and expansive selection of bookmark-worthy looks. One of the hero pieces was his purple Gucci pants worn when he was a part of the 2023 NBA All-star game at the Salt Lake City, Utah.
During the promotional rounds of ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’, the highlight was his all-white Dior look. On December 18, Ranveer Singh unveiled two wax statues of himself at the prestigious Madame Tussauds wax museum in London, both exemplifying his impeccable personal style. Where one is a deconstructed neon sherwani by Manish Arora, the other is a sharp tuxedo by Gaurav Gupta.