Corbis via Getty Images/Jacquemus; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Valentino; Launchmetrics Spotlight/Miu Miu
Polka dots popped back up as a significant print trend in S/S 23 collections, and that era seemingly hasn’t ended. But were you to say that the polka dots found in F/W 23 collections were “run-of-the-mill,” you’d be remiss. Designers took an atypical approach to this pattern by leaning into design techniques, materials, and styling. You can see how technique played a role in reinventing this print, most prominently in Jacquemus’s fall collection. Nestled in gardens at the Place of Versailles, attendees watched as models sauntered by the water; if the location wasn’t already outside the typical box, then the prints did the trick. The collection featured an off-the-shoulder mini dress with dramatic puff sleeves adorned with 3D appliqué polka dots. Simon Porte may have added an air of decadence to this print through embroidery, but Miuccia Prada added a dash of sultriness through her focus on materials.
As noted in Miu Miu’s show notes, “Materialization can actively change how outfits are visually read and how we understand them,” that idea was on full display in the fall collection. The runway was punctuated with classic silhouttes (knee-length skirts, button-downs, and halter dresses), all made from a sheer georgette polka dot material that was often layered over each other as a way to play with opacity. While materials and techniques no doubt dialed up the print’s visual intrigue on the runways this season, possibly the most approachable (but still punchy) way we saw this trend was in Valentino’s collection. The more “formal” menswear items like ties, button-downs, and trousers were given a youthful spin via vibrant hues (e.g., pink, red, yellow), textures like sequins and feathers, and, most importantly, polka dots. For example, the classic button-down and tie combo was spiced up by being styled with oversized sunglasses, sculptural earrings, chunky ankle boots, and a polka dot peacoat. It was a look that reminded us that this print can still pop off; you just have to be willing to go for a version of this pattern that’s a bit off the beaten path.