Shape Up: The Hourglass Silhouette Is The Season’s Most Seductive Trend

4 min read

As the hourglass silhouette returns as the biggest shape in fashion for AW23, designers are re-embracing the waist with corseted gowns, nipped-in tailoring and curve-enhancing accessories

It was back in 1947 when Christian Dior first showed his most iconic look: the nipped-waist, full-skirted Bar suit that shone a spotlight on the seductive hourglass silhouette — one that would go on to inspire countless designers after him, including Charles Frederick Worth, Azzedine Alaïa and, of course, Alexander McQueen. Speaking to a hopeful new post-war era and end to austerity, it gave women allover the world a sense of freedom following oppressive clothing that restricted both their stylistic tastes and ladylike inclinations, speaking to a new age of female solidarity.

Richard Quinn

While the silhouette has most certainly drifted in and out of fashion over the last 80 years, it’s back with a bang for AW23, the catwalks awash with waist-whittling silhouettes that flaunted our curves. “This season power dressing is less focused on borrowing from menswear and instead instils a feeling of women dressing for themselves with confidence,” Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matches, tells MOJEH. “After many seasons of oversized tailoring, we are seeing our customers gravitate towards a more structured, tailored waist.”

Reviving classics by playing with volume and shapes, cinched in waistlines have taken back the power this season, with Donatella Versace at the fore. And are you surprised? Inspired by the energy and passion of Hollywood for her AW23 show (so much so that she moved it from Milan to LA), fashion’s favourite icon took classic Golden Age glamour and infused it with a contemporary aesthetic to create a runway show that was a typically star-studded affair, with the likes of Pamela Anderson, Cher, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa and Elton John all in attendance. As for the clothes, the emphasis was on the hourglass, with silhouettes inspired by vintage 90s Versace collections — think corseted gowns, draped dresses and sharp tailoring styled with opera gloves and sky-high stilettos. When Gigi Hadid strutted out against the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills in a black skirt suit with a moulded waist, the trend was well and truly cemented.

Louis Vuitton

From Rick Owens to Nina Ricci, other designers are cleverly using a tie detail built into their jackets that allow the wearer to create their own curves. Then there’s the likes of Jason Wu and Max Mara who are channelling a more feminine feel through the tailoring they have on offer, crafting investment suits with pieces that can be worn separately too. “Alexander McQueen cleverly uses a tailored twist on the shape each season,” adds Liane. “Sarah Burton’s peplum style jackets are a particular highlight this season, as is Simone Rocha’s super modern bomber coat. It’s a similar style to the best-selling khaki version and will transform any outfit.”

Elsewhere we saw a spectacular lemon lace corset dress at Ermanno Scervino, while Richard Quinn teased the return of the peplum with exaggerated silhouettes and tubular waistlines by taking on both elegance and detailed craft. Accentuating the hips of strapless dresses with hemlines just below the knee, it left the effect of the waist to be cinched at the sides.


For those looking to makeover their existing staples rather than indulge in new styles each season, accessories are the way forward when it comes to creating the illusion of a waist if either you or your clothes don’t naturally have one. Noughties belts and corsets, for example, are back in vogue, with huge chunky numbers cinching everything in at Max Mara, Alaïa and Schiaparelli. If you’re more of the minimal type, look to Louis Vuitton and Sportmax, where skinny belts offset wide shoulders. “The key to all dressing is to ensure you feel the very best version of yourself,” adds Liane. “Celebrate your femininity while being comfortable, so nothing feels too fitted or tight for your shape. Accessories are a great way to achieve this, as is looking to soft fabrics that enhance, rather than anything that is too stiff or structured. That’s the winning formula.”

Read Next: The AW23 Trends To Incorporate Into Your Festive Wardrobe

  • Words by Naomi Chadderton