Campaign Galore: How Fashion Captured this Year’s Events

This year is gone. And as we look back at what’s happened over the year, searching for clues that help us set categories of analysis, in turn predicting some of the events that lie ahead next year, here we spot the light on some of the campaigns that epitomised the progress of technology, unlocked a new level of nostalgia, grasped cultural events, and, overall, defined the aesthetics of the year.

The rise of AI-inspired aesthetics is undeniable.

This section doesn’t need preambles. We’ve seen it and we know it — AI-generated visuals are everywhere, and there couldn’t be a better photographer than Elizaveta Porodina to capture its essence, with her robotic approach to aesthetics as seen in Carolina Herrera’s SS23 Campaign starring actress Dove Cameron. In this campaign, Dove is polished, ethereal and reproduced.

With an ultra-modern sleek look, Heaven by Marc Jacobs creates a Blade Runner-inspired cyborg, embodied by a hairless Bella Hadid. The AW23 campaign features an intimate interaction between the model and what appears to be the robot from the film I, Robot. The experimental beauty of the label introduces the brand’s signature Kiki boot, which has a futuristic, extraterrestrial look for a twist of modernity and high fashion.

Nostalgia continues to be a recurrent theme, with cartoon graphics leading the way this year.

The rise of cartoon fashion has been one to not miss, with gravity-defying accessories and outrageous proportions in some cases, and reproducing the visuals from animated series — especially Japanese anime — in other cases. The latter has been the case of the luxurious brand Jimmy Choo, which dropped a capsule collection of hot pink boots and a clutch decorated with the illustrations of the iconic anime series ‘Sailor Moon’.

Later that day, Mschf shared the forthcoming release of the ‘Big Red Boot’, based on the aesthetics of the Japanese manga Astro Boy. The oversized boots met the sartorial proportions seen in animated worlds — something beyond this reality.

Even though Studio Ghibli has made it into fashion with simultaneous collabs here and there, the one who has truly led the way into this trend is Italian label GCDS, whose AW22 collection and campaign had it already predicted: maxi tees and white-leg denim jeans featuring the most recognisable characters from the world of the Looney Tunes crew. And in February, setting an AW24 show during Milan Fashion Week against a backdrop of a cartoon-like cat.

Climate activists delivering a message.

Is it a coincidence that last year, members of Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) glued themselves to a painting by Renascent Botticelli, and this year creative director Maximilian Davis indulged in some Renaissance artistry for Ferragamo’s SS23 campaign?

If this is a conversation happening, between political and social events at a cultural level then we want more. Because that means that climate activists are making a statement and fashion is reacting to this — even though, it does so to take advantage of the moment. But moving forward, the campaign poses today’s muses as the subjects next to masterpiece paintings from the Italian Renaissance era, including works by Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Bellini and Paolo Veronese, in a way that highlights the meaning of heritage in a contemporary context.

Nature continues to be king of landscapes and evocative, sensual atmospheres.

Nature is our muse, and year after year is used as a portal of either realism, surrealism or escapism. This year, there’s no doubt that natural landscapes stand for emancipation and modernity.

Rhugi Villaseñor, known for his label RHUDE, revealed the SS23 campaign of his first collection as Bally’s creative director: shot by Harley Weir, the collection is set against a natural rocky landscape that highlights the textures that Villaseñor placed in the collection, such as snake-print leather and plush velvet. “I wanted to introduce a new visual language to Bally campaigns, a mix of bold sophistication and sensuality to express my modern vision of luxury,” explains Villaseñor.

In a different fashion, Canada Goose revealed their AW23 campaign, shot by Annie Leibovitz, as a series of creative conversations between female talents, using New Mexico’s landscapes as the meeting point for connection and reflection. Featuring Sheila Atim, Sophie Darlington and Kimberly Newell, Leibovitz captures a journey of female empowerment. “We were all bewitched by the power of the New Mexico landscape. Bringing them together in such an incredible, natural environment, was very inspiring,” said Leibovitz.

And there was no way we couldn’t mention Stella McCartney’s SS23 campaign, which is an ode to horses and nature with Kendall Jenner interacting with them has been a highlight this year. “Kendall has been riding since she was a kid, just like me, and has her own ranch; you can see how at ease she is around these sensitive creatures, and them with her. Capturing this connection brings Horse Power to life, both through the fashion and the vision,” explains Stella.

Geek is the new hot.

Speaking of an ongoing, formidable partnership, Nike and Martine Rose revealed their latest creation, featuring a new sports TV channel — ‘Martine Rose Sports Television’ or MRSTV for short — with Ruby Wax, Amelia Dimoldenberg and Leah Williamson. The aesthetics of this campaign presents a 1980s-era presenter completely wearing amber-tinted glasses and coiffed hair, which altogether gives a geek feel — even though it is about sports.

That being said, geeky aesthetics reflect how we’re being prompted to celebrate our personal interests no matter how mainstream or not they are — the celebration of hyper-fixation on specific subjects, including anime-related topics.

*Header: Bally SS23 by Harley Weir