The Year of Quiet vs. Loud Luxury

Fashion
Graphic by Kayleen Dicuangco

Were you Team Sofia or Beyoncé in 2023?

Who here hasn’t fantasized about having a Pretty Woman moment? You know the one: You walk into a high-end boutique and spend “an obscene amount of money.” Or better yet, you drop an obscene amount of someone else’s money, and then rub it in the faces of the people that had previously wronged you. “Big mistake. Huge!” It’s the perfect Cinderella fairytale moment, mixed in with some petty-yet-delicious revenge — a poor, insignificant person goes through a makeover montage and suddenly experiences the life of the one per cent.

This year, being rich (or pretending to be rich) was cooler than ever. Sofia Richie Grainge became an It girl overnight by channeling Coco Chanel. The Met Gala celebrated the man whose name has become synonymous with luxury (Karl Lagerfeld, in case you’ve forgotten). And concert costumes served infinitely more glamour than any red carpet. (See: anything Beyoncé wore during her Renaissance Tour.) But what’s the proper way to wear your wealth? In 2023, quiet luxury vs. loud luxury was up for debate.

sofia richie style
Photography via Instagram.com/@sofiarichiegrainge

The first half of 2023 was dedicated to quiet luxury. The trend — which gained popularity thanks to Succession’s final season, Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski court case and Sofia Richie Grainge’s wedding— rejects the desire to show off. Instead, quiet luxury favours items with hefty designer price tags that (silently) scream “If you know, you know.” Think of Phoebe Philo’s new collection as a prime example. There wasn’t a logo to be seen but a black leather bomber will cost you upwards of $6,900 USD.

Then in May, Beyoncé entered the chat. Never one to fade into the background, Queen Bey brought loud luxury to life with her viral Renaissance Tour outfits. A custom Alexander McQueen sparkle dress for one song, a campy Loewe bodysuit for the next. Each city brought a new level of decadence that fans started quickly replicating. (Why else do you think silver is still trending?)

beyoncé tour north america
Photography courtesy of Gucci

Shortly after, Taylor Swift upped her sequin and fringe game during her Eras tour, the Barbie movie had us thinking pink with #Barbiecore, and the Hunger Games prequel brought everything from flame-inspired gowns to 3D flowers to the red carpet.

Most recently, Timothée Chalamet is serving some major Wonka realness in candy-coloured velvet and latex suits. A far cry from camel coats and navy trousers of the previous months, indeed.

But whether you prefer quiet luxury vs. loud luxury, both trends are ultimately a response to the same thing: the 2010s. As Highsnobiety writes in the 2019 book, The New Luxury, the past decade was defined by “how streetwear and sneakers have not only infiltrated the upper tiers of fashion, but became it.”

The 2010s rejected the old-money aesthetic in all its forms. Athleisure became an acceptable style to wear to both the gym and the ballet. Nontraditional designers like Ye and Virgil Abloh shot up to superstardom. Runners became a suit’s best accessory. It was only a matter of time before fashion got fed up with being so casual, and wanted to be more polished. Add in a global pandemic and more than a year of lockdowns in loungewear and ta da — luxury (in all its interpretations) is having its resurgence.

Nevertheless, as 2023 proved with its many (MANY!) micro-trends, we no longer have to choose one aesthetic and stick to it. There’s enough room in your wardrobe for Beyoncé-inspired corsets and Jennifer Lawrence-approved cashmere. Fashion is at its best when it’s both inspirational and aspirational; fantastical and functional; quiet and loud. To only choose one? Big mistake. Huge!

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