If there is one word to describe New York Fashion Week’s fall winter ’23 season, “normal” might be it. After a handful of disorienting seasons (and years) during the pandemic, the fall winter ’23 collections were surprisingly typical, if not a bit quiet in all of the normalcy.
Key tenets of any fall winter season shone through: a focus on great outerwear, practical garments with some splashy evening wear thrown in here and there. Boots, heels, some party shoes. All of the components that make up a well-rounded wardrobe for work, play, office, home, travel and celebration. Back to it.
In all of that normalcy, a crop of statement footwear emerged, from the fantastical (yes, platforms are still, well, big) to the more ladylike, or the quotidien boot. Variation seemed to be the trend itself for the season, instead of any one style silhouette or heel height dominating the runways.
Below, a look at the top 10 shoes of New York Fashion Week’s fall winter ’23 season, from the highest of heels to newest sneakers that walked the runway.
The designer and newly minted CFDA chairman had a highly anticipated comeback to New York Fashion Week. At The Shed at Hudson Yards, Browne presented a narrative inspired by “The Little Prince,” about two lost travelers exploring time and space. Among the treasure trove of details were bold tweed shoulders, gold wire headpieces and a series of platforms with clocks as heels.
Area creative director Piotrek Panszczyk took his vision of summertime fruit (and its stages of decay) to full effect, from beauty looks and headpieces all the way down to the shoes, with a series of feather, satin and crystal-accented heels in partnership with Sergio Rossi. A satin and crystal heeled sandal inspired by banana peels nailed the theme in its abstract interpretation and struck the perfect mix of fantasy and wearability.
It was difficult to find them amongst the flowing layers of satins, wools and silks, done in Rorschach, ink blot and shibori prints (creative director Joseph Altuzarra referenced reading tea leaves and part of his inspiration). But underneath a stellar showing of outerwear and evening gowns was a series of combat boots with silk satin uppers, dyed to match the colorful garments. Never has a combat boot looked so elegant and elevated.
Every fall winter season needs a substantial boot, and Jonathan Simkhai struck the right mix of practical and cool, with a black leather knee boot with the sort of relaxed calf shape that’s been prevalent over the past year and a rubber lug sole that was chunky and statement making but also relatively flat and practical for everyday wear.
It’s safe to say that Tory Burch flats are a piece of American fashion iconography at this point, but in the designer’s recent creative shifts, Burch has begun to explore how the staple of her brand can go in new and interesting directions, such as it was with this pair of black leather ballerinas, which have a silver hardware ring that oddly but alluringly reads as a piercing-like accent on the toe and a subtle stacked heel to give it just the right elevation.
After a decade-long slog of flashy but mostly non-functional “fashion sneakers,” Heron Preston’s footwear direction offers a refreshing point of view with a priority on innovation and practicality (for further proof see the designer’s work with 3D-printing company Zellerfeld or collaborations with CAT footwear). For fall winter ’23, Preston brought back his existing Block Stepper, a style that demonstrates the ethos of technicality. He also introduced the Toby Mid Top, a skate style sneaker nostalgic for the ’90s.
The fall winter ’23 season has already proven that platforms are here to stay as a reliable shoe for one’s arsenal of glamour. Last season, Cowan adorned them with frothy feathers (where they walked the runway alongside a buzzy Crocs collab), all part of the designer’s push into footwear. This season, they stood alone, strappy, metallic and with a curved pedestal heel. Bonus points go to the latex hosiery with individualized toes.
The Australian designer has quietly built up his footwear business since launching the category in 2018. This season, Lee had everything from cutout booties to sexed-up thigh-high stilettos. But the style destined to be a hit is a chunky soled black leather boot with a distinct slouch, a quintessential cool boot that epitomized the designer’s snake-shedding-its-skin theme of the collection.
In one of the standout footwear collaborations of New York Fashion Week, Stuart Weitzman Head of Design Edmundo Castillo, Aknvas founder and designer Christian Juul Neilsen created a series of custom shoes that riffed on the ruffles featured throughout the fall winter ’23 collection. The standout was a pair of black thigh-high ruffled boots that matched an origami-ruffled mini dress with a dramatic shoulder.
Designer Carly Mark’s art project turned fashion label explored themes of food this season, and no garment or accessory was left untouched — no surprise from a brand whose bestselling item is a handbag with cookies on it. Marks incorporated eggs into various parts of the collection, fried or over easy, covering bras and dripping down the toes of a pair sandy suede brogues. Could this be the brand’s new food-inspired accessory of the season?