top of page

Reinventing the Uniform: Office

Office by Jack Turpen of Ella Lawyer, Cami Watkins and Emma Watson / Styled by Jack Turpen / Style Assist by Emily Stabile / Photography Assist by Emily Gonzalez

By Jack Turpen

Brands are creating their collections around the ideas of their consumers in the workplace. Specifically, brands like Miu Miu, Prada, and Saint Laurent have shown Fall 2023 collections that show the brands interpretation of modern business casual. Their spins on the, previously mundane seeming, theme of business casual all had some kind of twist that made their takes unique. Miu Miu’s Fall 2023 collection was centered around the Miu Miu girl in a rush to get to work, as the collection was made up of layered cardigans, suit jackets, and business casual blouses. One of the most polarizing aspects of this collection was the models who were fully dressed on top but only had tights and knitted underwear over them on the bottom. This lent itself to the comedic idea of a woman forgetting to put on pants or a skirt in her rush to get out the door. The styling of the collection, done by Lotta Volkova, was very thrown together and messy with lots of layering. As I have talked about this collection at length before, I found it to be very successful in its fresh take on the business casual theme.

Being that they are sister brands, Prada continued the theme of modern business casual in a less youthful take. There was a brightness within Prada’s Fall 2023 ready-to-wear that was not present in the color scheme of Miu Miu. Prada had some garments in red, yellow, and pink that were paired with the usual muted tones. Prada silhouettes tend to stretch a bit longer than those of Miu Miu, further lending to the idea of Miu Miu being the “younger sister”. The twist within Prada’s business casual seemed to be with the inspiration for a lot of pieces, origami. There were a great deal of white skirts that were embellished with folded white cotton flowers. They almost looked as though they were sketches of skirts that had yet to be colored. These origami-inspired embellishments were placed on the shoes as well. This was a lighter take for Prada, as it seems they tend to lean a bit darker in schemes, but it was very refreshing. Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons confirmed that the somber notes within the collection were in honor of the anniversary of the news breaking about the injustices in Ukraine. This helped connect this idea of lightness that still felt reflective and sad in some ways. Angelic would be the perfect word but I feel it was still presenting this idea of movement forward.

Saint Laurent’s interpretation of business wear did not hold as much conceptual weight, but it most definitely still delivered. The collection mostly showed models in shoulder-padded, men’s suit jackets and aviator sunglasses. Most of the women wore these jackets paired with skirts in matching fabrics, playing on the idea of YSL’s classic skirt suit. Most of these suits were paired with low-cut blouses and sheer black tights. Vaccarello’s keyword throughout the design process was “elegance”. The whole collection proved to show elegance within the workplace, but also power. I think the exaggerated shoulders, black aviator sunglasses, and loose blouses all played a part in creating an almost femme fatale. A reference that sparked for me personally was Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns”. Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman is one of my favorite characters of all time, so this collection made me think of Selena Kyle showing up to work after her boss tried to kill her. That may not connect with many, but I thought of her first when thinking of who would wear the collection. There is a sexiness within the collection that is evident in the evening wear that was shown closer to the end. I think this further solidified the idea of the modern business woman and the power that she holds. The collection as a whole was very successful in my eyes, further delivering this idea of what modern business wear can look like.

Though, to the younger fashion lovers, this idea of modern business wear may not apply to the style of clothing they normally sport, I feel as though this idea will find its way into younger age groups. Miu Miu is to thank for presenting that idea in the younger interpretation, which showed to be a lot edgier in being more exposed. One of the biggest takeaways from all three of those collections was the shift they showed from maximalism to minimalism. But I do not feel as though these collections proved to be very minimalistic in actuality. Instead, I considered the idea that maximalism itself had become minimal, as fashion shifted away from excessive accessorizing and moved towards the maximal styling of simplistic garments. This had been evident in a lot of previous collections from Miu Miu and Prada, but it is obvious in the three just presented. The way they had transformed this idea of maximalism is in the way outfits were layered, as many show multiple layers of different garments stacked on top of one another. Another key element within these collections is the different prints and colors that were shown. All of them show a consistent use of grays and beiges, some showing a great deal of navy blue as well. Traditionally business casual patterns, like polka dots and pinstripes, were used across these collections as well as in a great deal of other collections. Another mood or theme I felt was evident within a lot of collections for Fall was a feeling of sharpness. I mean this both literally, in the pointed sling-back heels and padded shoulders, as well as figuratively. There has always been this idea of coldness and power within the runway, as models are often seen with stern expressions that evoke the power that brands often portray. This sharpness lends itself to the idea of the modern business woman, as it harkens back to the idea of a cold businessman of the 1980s. Reshaping that image and cheating this archetype of the powerful business woman is really compelling to me.

bottom of page