Bare. What comes to mind at its mention? Certainly, it felt an apt name for Sportmax’s fall 2023 collection, given it began with a series of opening looks in fleshy shades of beige, peach and nude. Blazers, leather dresses, corsets and shirting were rendered in the nude, evoking a second skin feel underscored by a broad exploration of textures to stimulate the senses. How so? Fluffy heels with matching faux fur keychains, feather trims and fringe sleeves invited a reconsideration of the collection’s name early on: what else could ‘bare’ connote, and how might its meaning translate differently depending on one’s environment?
Follow-up suits in mock python and pink faux fur hinted at another direction: that of the animal kingdom. There were countless references to animal skins scattered throughout the show, but also dresses tied in knots with peekaboo effects to reveal the skin, fabricated in velvet and jersey, that felt tenuously connected to the theme but more wearable, distinguishing between elements of fashion and fantasy within the collection.
Other inspirations included the works of Peter Hujar, Robert Mappelthorpe and Nan Goldin. There was an abundance of leather, worked into the collection via skirts and dresses, as well as glittering chainmail, in halter neck and mini dress styles evocative of Kendall Jenner or Paris Hilton’s wardrobes. These represented two extremes—hard and soft, light and darkness—spliced together with several looks in lace. The collection exemplified that at Sportmax, there is no shortage of ideas, but these could be massaged some more, so that it’s obvious each look is in conversation with the other.
This article originally appeared on GRAZIA AU.