The 12 Best Runway Moments in 2022

From pigeon bags to Alessandro Michele’s last bow for Gucci, this year in fashion was truly one to remember.

Photo by Getty; image treatment by Ashley Peña.

It seemed like every week of 2022 brought with it another big headline in the world of fashion news. Debuts, exits, surprising models—there was always something to discuss, whether it was Jonathan Anderson’s latest quirky creation or another ’90s super reentering the game. The year started with a fall/winter season that continued the takeover of Miu Miu minis, introduced the world to PP Pink, and ended with brand closings, goodbyes, and controversies so shocking, we’ll still be recovering from them in 2023. But instead of lingering on the negative, let’s focus on what 2022 had to offer in the form of runway moments—because there were tons of highs throughout the last 12 months that will likely go down in fashion history.

JW Anderson Made Pigeons Chic
Courtesy of JW Anderson

Jonathan Anderson has centered himself as a kind of joker in fashion—someone looking to have fun with clothes and bring joy to those who encounter his designs. Through J.W. Anderson and Loewe, Anderson presented multiple collections in 2022, managing to push boundaries every single season. This entire list could be made up of moments from Anderson’s shows alone, but for now, we’re highlighting one piece from his namesake brand that defined the year.

In January, Anderson presented his fall 2022 menswear collection with a parade of hoop-hemmed dresses and jackets, hooded fur-trimmed dickies, and polo shirt rompers. The standout, among all of it, however, was a pigeon, carried in many of the models who walked the runway’s palms.

“I wanted an element of something a bit silly in the collection,” Anderson told Harper’s Bazaar at the time. “Fashion has this great way of allowing us to escape reality. Also, pigeons are so inherently unglamorous; it’s funny to turn it into a functional object like a clutch bag that’s typically seen as quite glamorous.”

Clearly, Anderson hit a nerve, because in the months following the collection, the pigeon bag has become a bit of a cult item. It was one of the most-searched pieces of the year, it sold out very soon after becoming available online, and soon, it will be seen in the hands of Carrie Bradshaw in the upcoming season of And Just Like That... “They really are the most successful bird,” Anderson said. Now, they’re his most successful bag.

Matthieu Blazy Debuted for Bottega Veneta
Courtesy of Bottega Veneta

It was quite daring for Mathieu Blazy to send out jeans and a white tank top as his debut look with Bottega Veneta at the fall 2022 presentation for the brand. But upon closer inspection, they weren’t jeans and a T at all—but a trompe l'oeil leather jumpsuit created to mimic the simplest of outfits. And thus, Blazy’s era at Bottega began. Embodying the brand’s ethos of simple, chic, well-made clothes, Blazy added his own tongue-in-chic DNA in his first collection. Beautifully tailored suits were anchored by bright, red fur-covered booties, and jackets with curved backs were mimicked by the heel of the model’s shoes. Following Daniel Lee’s surprise exit from Bottega in 2021, it was unclear what would happen to the brand that had become a hit among street style stars over the past few years. But by the time Blazy came out to take his bow at that presentation in February, it was obvious Bottega was in good hands.

...And Then Sent a Grunge Kate Moss Down the Runway
Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Following his successful first show, the pressure was on Blazy to recreate the magic in September for his spring/summer 2023 collection. Luckily, Blazy lived up to his own expectations. The designer continued his exploration of texture in his second show, sending out the popular trompe l'oeil jumpsuit yet again—this time, though, on Kate Moss. Topped with a blue flannel, the look evoked the best parts of 2000s mall culture and ’90s grunge. Followed by skirts covered in laser-cut flowers and chaotic fringe dresses, Blazy proved yet again that he can achieve chic simplicity and dramatic maximalism in one fell swoop.

The Supers (and Serena Williams) Joined Forces to Honor Virgil Abloh
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Three months following Virgil Abloh’s passing, the fashion industry gathered in Paris to honor and celebrate the designer. The team behind Off-White put together a show titled “Spaceship Earth,” which included both the brand’s fall 2022 ready-to-wear collection, and a new high fashion line “designed by Virgil and completed by the creative teams and collaborators with whom he worked,” according to the show’s program. Serena Williams walked the runway in a sheer dress atop a tie-dye bodysuit, and was followed by the biggest models in the industry from the past 30+ years. Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, and Amber Valletta were joined by the Hadids, Kendall Jenner, Karlie Kloss, and Adut Akech—and that’s not even the half of it. It was truly a tribute to the lives Abloh touched, and all the creativity he still had left to share with the world.

Pierpaolo Piccioli Painted Valentino PP Pink
Courtesy of Valentino

By now, you’re probably sick of seeing hot pink take over every red carpet. But that just speaks to the prolific nature of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s fall 2022 collection for Valentino. In March, Piccioli sent out 48 models in shocking pink looks, contrasted only by a handful who wore all black. The hue, created in collaboration with the Pantone Color Institute, played perfectly into the Barbiecore trend gaining traction at the time and became an instant hit among celebs. Months later, and a look from the collection can still be spotted on almost every major red carpet. And likely, the pink will continue into 2023.

Jonathan Anderson Brought His Green Thumb to Loewe
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Both Jonathan Anderson’s men’s and womenswear collections for spring explored the line between artificial and organic. The womenswear collection in September saw plastic flowers blooming out of bra cups and topping shoes, but it was the men’s show where the real gardening took place. For his spring 2023 presentation, Anderson enlisted the help of Spanish textile designer Paula Ulargui Escalona. After four months of experimenting with various plants and fabrics, Escalona and the Loewe team decided to use chia plants and catswort to decorate garments from the collection. Twenty days before the show, the seeds were planted. It was a huge risk, and cool temperatures in Paris threatened the entire operation just days before the presentation. But the jackets, pants, and shoes—sprouting with greenery—made it onto the runway, looking freshly cut and like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

Linda Evangelista Returned to the Runway
Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Almost exactly a year after coming clean about a Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure that left her “permanently deformed,” Linda Evangelista returned to the runway for the first time in 15 years. The supermodel closed out Fendi and Marc Jacobs’s celebration of the brand’s famous baguette bag, floating onto the runway in a Tiffany blue cape gown. Jacobs, Kim Jones, Silvia Venturini Fendi, and Delfina Deletrez gave the model a well-deserved round of applause before taking bows themselves. Hopefully, it was a moment that will mark Evangelista’s more permanent runway homecoming.

Richard Quinn Honored the Late Queen Elizabeth
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Richard Quinn, a designer who is known for maximalist prints that cover the entire body, took on a more somber tone for his spring 2023 presentation. Held less than two weeks after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Quinn took his show as an opportunity to honor the monarch, who sat front row at a Quinn presentation just four years prior. The show opened with 22 black looks (all of which were reportedly made in the ten days following news of the Queen’s passing). They remained squarely within Quinn’s ethos, despite the lack of color—with embellished lace and satin bows decorating every hem, neckline, and puffed sleeve. The looks, though born out of a passing, allowed the opportunity for Quinn to show another side of his talent: what happens when you strip out color and are left with simply texture and silhouette—and a whole lot of opulence.

Paris Hilton Walked Down the Versace Aisle
Mondadori Portfolio/Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

Paris Hilton was one of pop culture’s biggest brides in 2021, wearing seven dresses throughout her three-day ceremony last November. It wasn’t until this year, however, that Donatella Versace made the socialite’s dreams come true, when Hilton got to walk down the aisle in her favorite color—pink. At Versace’s spring 2023 show in September, Hilton closed out the collection in a hot pink, metal-mesh mini dress with a matching lace veil clipped to her blonde extensions. Joined on the runway by Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid, and more famous faces, Hilton invoked just one phrase when she posed at the end of the catwalk: “That’s hot.”

Cher Closed Out Balmain With Olivier Rousteing
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Sometimes, there’s not much reasoning behind a celebrity cameo moment at a fashion show. For example, why did Cher join Olivier Rousteing for his final bow at the Balmain spring 2023 presentation? Because she’s Cher, goddamnit. No other explanation is necessary.

Coperni Combined Science With Art
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There are few moments in runway history that make everyone stop in their tracks. Yes, there are looks or entire collections to obsess over, but I’m talking moments: Hussein Chalayan’s coffee table skirt, Alexander McQueen’s robot-painted dress. And at Coperni’s spring 2023 show in September, Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant joined that echelon of show-stopping, genre-defying moments, when a dress materialized onto Bella Hadid right before our very eyes. But don’t compare Coperni’s spray-on garment to Lee’s 1999 feat with Shalom Harlow. “It’s totally different,” Vaillant told the New York Times.

Instead of robots, it was men doing the work, and instead of paint, liquid containing cotton or synthetic fibers in a polymer solution was at play. Manel Torres of Fabrican (the company behind the technology), and a member of his team circled Hadid, spraying the white substance that then congealed and clung to her body. When they were done, Coperni’s head of design, Charlotte Raymond, came out to perfect the dress, give it a neckline, a slit, and make it runway-ready. And then, Hadid stepped off her pedestal and modeled the look created in real time.

Alessandro Michele’s Final Bow for Gucci
Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci

Alessandro Michele’s spring 2023 collection for Gucci was a spectacle in itself, shocking showgoers when a wall the length of the runway lifted to reveal an identical show on the other side. Twin models walked the runway in matching outfits—with every last ruffle, pleat, and rhinestone copied over. The collection, titled “Twinsburg” was dedicated to Michele’s mother, a twin herself, and invoked questions of originality, duplication, and individuality. Kristen Bateman wrote that the collection “was composed of a mix of Michele’s greatest hits,” a fitting sentiment considering, just two months later, it was announced that Michele would be leaving Gucci, making “Twinsburg” his last show for the brand.