The pandemic-birthed resuscitation of indie chic – or, as the media now puts it, indie sleaze – and its continual ascent on the internet and style charts. The luxury world’s embrace of young musical acts such as the leather-suited Maneskin and grunge princess Beabadoobee (and, dare we say, a 38-year-old Avril Lavigne). Gen Z-ers’ obsession with the late Dame Vivienne Westwood. Fashion has always sought stimuli from musical subcultures – the more provocative, the better – but lately, it seems as if we’re entering a whole new weirdly nostalgic golden age of dressing like rockstars (go ahead, pick your genre).
Boil it down, perhaps to Tiktok, where the celebration of individual aesthetics and a hyper-smart algorithm have made discovering and forming a subculture (or the 2.0 version) as easy as a scroll. (at press time, the hashtags #indie and #punk raked in 11.9 billion and 8.1 billion views on the platform, respectively.) Of course, many of us could also simply be inspired by the most rockstar generation today: twenty-somethings and under for whom self-expression and creativity are a way of life and, in the wake of the pandemic, are even less afraid of chaos.
Ahead, all the fashion houses that are professing their love for rock ‘n’ roll in one way or another in Spring Summer 2023.
Titled “Heroes”, Marc Jacobs’ latest catwalk collection is a beautiful and bittersweet homage to the “godmother of punk”, Vivienne Westwood, following her passing last December. The street-inflected, couture-on-crack aesthetic he’s made a signature in recent years collides with the late punk pioneer’s own. Think the latter’s bustier gowns given a military makeover complete with cargo pockets, or recreated in crushed velvet or a leather-like material, exaggerating their romantic silhouettes to almost madcap effect.
Meanwhile, accessories have been distilled down to the essentials. On the runway, models wore a single strand of pearls – a look that Jacobs himself favours, but can also be seen as a nod to the very necklace that shot Westwood into Gen Z consciousness. The footwear of choice: Jacobs’ staple Kiki platform boots inspired by the vertiginous shoes Naomi Campbell famously took a tumble in when walking Westwood’s Fall Winter 1993 show.
Julien Dossena vibes to a surprisingly subversive soundtrack of punk and grunge at Paco Rabanne with grommet-studded tanks and harnesses offering an alternative way to shine (alongside the brand’s signature use of chainmail) and sultry slips paired with combat boots. The root of all that fury? The overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US just weeks before the show.
Explains the Frenchman: “It’s as if all the progress we have been able to make in recent years – of accepting new norms and greater openness – has only been a prelude to a fight that’s just begun… That’s why the image of this very strong woman includes her ability to defend herself, to protect herself and even to attack. I was interested in expressing all this resulting anger, violence and chaos through the lens of subversive cultures. Obviously, the end goal is that everyone can live together with the same equal rights and the freedom not to be dominated by oppressive forces.”
Hedi Slimane now calls Ramatuelle in Saint-Tropez home. Still, it’s hard to eclipse the indie chic aesthetic he revolutionised fashion with when he was living in California – he invented it, after all. In Celine’s La Collection de Saint-Tropez – or The Saint-Tropez Collection – the most unadulterated version of the look cleans up without losing any of its nonchalant edge. Quintessential to it: the original skinny jeans that Slimane launched in the 2000s only to become the uniform of rock musicians everywhere. Low-rise and crafted in Japanese denim or lambskin, they’re designed to go with anything from ballet flats to biker boots, and lean tailoring to a bikini.
Thanks to a certain Dame Westwood, co-opting the style of the establishment has become intrinsic to punk culture. At Dior this season, the key inspiration isn’t just someone who was the queen of France in the 16th century, but one who challenged – and rose above – the system herself: Catherine de Medici. Popularly touted as the most important woman in Europe of her time due to her political ambition, she was also behind architectural landmarks such as the Tuileries in Paris and a proponent of game-changing fashion essentials such as high heels.
What’s a report on the influence of punk and indie rock on fashion without mention of the house of Vivienne Westwood? Stocked at the multi-label boutique Tyan, the non-runway namesake line – previously filed under the Red Label tag – offers the punk icon’s signatures for everyday wear. Dubbed “Born To Rewild”, this season’s collection includes corset tops and draped dresses in an unlikely tropical print, and her equally famous pirate pants and Harris Tweed suits made light in summer-friendly, neon-accented cotton and tartan. The big story, though, is their make: According to Women’s Wear Daily, the entire range was crafted from 90 per cent lower-impact fabrics, while several designs are said to be “no-waste” with zero leftover scrap materials in the production process.
Inspired by a Parisian opera production of Cinderella, the always-theatrical Thom Browne gives his delightfully warped take on the fairy tale with wildly billowing ball gowns and prom dresses inspired by ’50s rock ‘n’ roll (gotta have that jolt of Americana with him). To complete the look on the runway: New Wave makeup and massive mohawks.
For the swansong of his cult namesake label, Raf Simons had an underground, everybody’s-welcome rave party on his mind. So while he admits it to be his “barest, most minimal collection”, the entire affair is an artful confluence of multiple subcultural influences. First, there are his trademark techno strokes (cue the neon fishnet tank tops). At the same time, the echoes of New Wave (bright coloured tights) and classic punk (oversized biker jackets and graphic tees – this time printed with the frenetic text drawings of Belgian artist Philippe Vandenberg) are unmistakable.
One could say the beauty on the Balenciaga Spring Summer 2023 runway was on point. With the help of the drag performer-slash-makeup genius Alexis Stone – known for transforming into the spitting image of other personalities using prosthetics – the label decked out its models with punk piercings (some real, many faux) to accompany its collection that’s meant to celebrate individualism. To adopt the look, check out the brand’s range of Le Cagole bags embellished with the same irreverent assortment of hoops, nails and studs that are destined for grail status.
The Japanese designer Junya Watanabe is one of fashion’s most faithful punk devotees. For Spring Summer 2023 – his first collection to have been shown live in Paris since the pandemic – he’s brought out all its greatest tropes and then remixed them through a refined New Romantics lens. Fishnet tops, for example, are layered under ’80s-oversized, exquisitely deconstructed tailoring, while chains and pearls are worn generously not just as jewellery, but also all-over embellishments on tartan dresses. The effect: a gloriously defiant glamour.
Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski of Hermes takes on desert rave wear this season and comes up with a festival-chic collection that’s distinctively the work of the French luxury maison. Coolly youthful numbers include a backless lace-up cropped top crafted from knotting ropes and perforated leather separates with strappy ties that Gen Z-ers would love. Coachella, are you ready?
This article was originally published in Female.