In his Anthology of Black Humor, the surrealist André Breton wrote: “Accommodation to the absurd readmits adults to the mysterious realm inhabited by children.” The widespread delight sparked by JW Anderson’s reimagination of frog-faced wellies (made famous by a young Prince Harry back in the 1980s) speaks to a broader appetite for the bizarre and humorous that is gripping the fashion industry. They say the devil is in the details, but in the case of the men’s Fall/Winter 2023 shows, the jokes are in the accessories. Fendi sent out a baguette shaped Baguette, Moschino turned a belt into a shawl and a boot into a purse, and Martine Rose reimagined the paper shopper as a coveted collectible.
The winds of Surrealism have been blowing in fashion, and the resurgence of its post-war spirit feels historically appropriate for the post-Covid-era – which somehow feels simultaneously like the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. While surrealists like Dalí spent their time ruminating on Freud’s interpretation of dreams and investigating the pits of their own subconscious, today’s designers are more likely fixated on the inner workings of social media algorithms and the marketing value of virality. Gen Z’s absurdist humor is flourishing on TikTok, and the app’s trickle-up effect is likely at play here. Designers, fashion fanatics and TikTok creators all seemingly share an ambition: “never let them know your next move.” See our favorite takes on the trend below:
Fendi’s Baguette Baguettes
In December, UNESCO announced that France’s “artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” would receive special protected status. Fendi’s Baguette bag has long been a hot item, but this freshly baked and hugely literal iteration is a timely celebration of gluten’s recent road to redemption. The funniest part of this bag, however, is Fendi’s deadpan explanation for it. “This is very much for the French market,” Fendi told Vogue, “dryly.”
JW Anderson’s Frog Wellies
I likely speak for all Croc-lovers when I say that I nearly croaked upon seeing the green and blue frog-clogs on JW Anderson’s runway. Rubber slip-ons are not lacking in ridiculousness, but the addition of a cartoon-faced amphibian is truly transcendent. The lesser talked about frog in the show is a win for anyone who couldn’t stomach Anderson’s pigeon bag. This clutch comes with significantly less cultural baggage.
Moschino’s Jumbo Jumble
Moschino’s collection is first and foremost a fantastic homage to one of the funniest words in the English language: “haberdashery.” The cut ’n’ paste aesthetic, 1920s and 1930s silhouettes, and artistically deconstructed garments scream Dada, but the standouts – a massive belt presented as a scarf and a headband that looks like a tied shoelace – are also byproducts of the meme-centric humor of 2023. Of all of the outrageous accessories in the show, the giant boot-turned-purse takes the cake. If the shoe doesn’t fit, you might as well carry it.
Martine Rose’s Shopping Bags
Trompe-l’oeil – it’s a classic for a reason. So is playing with scale, however Martine Rose’s shopping bags conjure more questions than they do logical explanations. Is this a monument to the fleeting high of carrying a freshly purchased item down High Street, or just a more tasteful version of the same joke Demna made with his Balenciaga trash bags? And if you buy a Martine Rose FW2023 shopping bag bag in a store, will you carry that shopping bag bag out in another shopping bag?