- Words Lewys Ball
Here are Lewys Ball's most unforgettable, unmissable and questionable moments of 2023, including Pamela Anderson, Beyoncé and Cardi B.
2023 may have been the year of the Barbie, the Swift and puffing on nicotine products mid-interview (see Cole Sprouse and Schofield for context), but beyond all that it’s been a year filled with senior citizen fashion, the return of ‘real’ in reality television, empty handbags on stage and wearing Margiela Tabis to community service. Here are my top twelve moments from the past year…
Dame Maggie Smith for Loewe
Professor McGonagall donning a Loewe fur coat and iconic Puzzle bag was not on my predictions for the chicest moment of 2023. The 88-year-old Harry Potter and Downtown Abbey actress being the face of the brand’s SS24 pre-collection campaign was only one of many highlights of older women standing front and centre in fashion this year, with Martha Stewart becoming the oldest cover model ever of Sports Illustrated and Bake Off royalty Mary Berry fronting a Burberry campaign. More of this in 2024, please, perhaps Judi Dench as the next Miu Miu girl.
The reign of Rae
After years of online ridicule due to viral paparazzi videos of public TikTok’ing and a friendship with a Kardashian 20 years older, it seems 2023 was the year the public started taking Addison Rae seriously. Having her initial start on TikTok in 2019, it seemed Rae’s team was trying almost everything to make her stick as a mainstay name. A pop career, a fragrance brand, a rom-com starlet, a makeup mogul and a reality tv career were all things she has thrown her hat into the ring for over the past few years to be met with not much luck.
This was until a small group of ‘little monsters’ found her leaked version of a scrapped Lady Gaga track ‘Nothing On (But The Radio)’, which fans had been begging to be released for years. Overnight, Addison went from the butt of many online jokes to a gay icon with co-signs from pop royalty like Charli XCX and Shygirl. Her debut EP, featuring XCX on the track ‘To Die For’, would be released this year three years after her original musical debut and met with critical acclaim. Addison also went on to give a camp performance in the slasher film Thanksgiving, again met with praise. In 2023 she got the internet on board with her and I hope in 2024 the rest of the world will continue to fall in love with her.
A trip to the METTE-verse
After years of dabbling in the entertainment industry, including appearances in N.E.R.D & Rihanna’s music video for ‘Lemon’ and a cameo in the Barbie movie, triple threat METTE released her debut EP Mettenarrative this year, and she is not running short on any star power. Not only is the music top tier, but the videos, looks and choreography are to the standard of a bonafide superstar. It has been a joy discovering her and watching her rollout in 2023 and it’s time for 2024 to be METTE’s year.
Putting ‘real’ back into reality television
The reality TV space felt like it had hit a dead end in recent years, becoming an incubator for PrettyLittleThing’s next influencer campaign or a rehabilitation centre for problematic politicians, so it’s been a while since a reality show has excited me in the way Netflix’s Squid Games: The Challenge has. Based on the Korean dystopian drama Squid Game, the show beat records for the largest cast (456 contestants) and prize fund ($4.56 million) this year and went number one on Netflix in multiple countries, and rightly so as it felt like old reality tv was back. There was no self-monitoring yourself in order to appear brand-friendly or for fear of internet hate. Instead, a cutthroat show with extremely high stakes and no guarantee of fame at the end (the vast majority of the cast didn’t even get shown on the show). These people were there to win and didn’t care who they hurt along the way or how they may come across on television, a catch 22 most shows can’t seem to escape nowadays. A few tweaks could be made for the following season such as the pacing towards the end of the season, but as for the bones of a show, this may be the best we’ve seen in years.
Millie Bobby Brown doesn’t want to see your food!
Millie Bobby Brown may have gotten engaged at 19 years old to Jake Bon Jovi (Jon Bon Jovi’s son) this year, however, my personal 2023 highlight from the actress was being scolded for taking pictures of my food before I eat. After revealing that a psychic told her she was a feminist in an interview with Glamour magazine, she went on to lecture those who decide to share their food on social media, a similar standpoint my mother had circa 2014. A very camp moment from 19 going on 39 Bobby Brown.
The Carrie Bradshaw-fication of Harry Styles
Harry Styles wearing custom Nina Ricci by Harris Reed to the Brit Awards 2023 is (as of this moment) my red carpet highlight of the year. Usually known for his colourful out there looks, it was the all black velvet look with a Carrie Bradshaw floral motif that stood out for me this year. Other red carpet fashion highlights included Sienna Miller in Schiaparelli at Vogue World, Doja Cat in Versace at the Grammys and Sam Smith in Harri at the Brits.
PinkPantheress and her little bag
2023 was the year PinkPantheress clicked for me and I finally understood the hype behind her. Her debut album Heaven Knows was a way of cementing her as an artist who is capable of doing more than sub-two-minute catchy tunes, with tracks like ‘Capable of love’ and ‘Ophelia’ offering something of more substance. However, it’s not just the music that makes her so easy to root for. Coming from the online community before her rise in fame (a vocal advocate and member of the K-Pop standom), she understands the current climate of celebrity culture. Us fans are able to see her partake in internet memes and inside jokes, such as the little handbag with nothing in it but will always be on her arm on stage. Not only is the music sounding top quality, but she’s proved to be a top quality person too, making it impossible to not love her.
Cardi B’s fashion masterclass
The Bronx rapper has secured her place in my all time fashion hall of fame after not missing once in her multiple red carpet and fashion week appearances. As of recently making her runway debut at Balenciaga’s Fall 24 show, other highlights include her Dilara Findikoglu dress covered in hundreds of hair clips to the VMAs, a Karl Lagerfeld inspired look at the Met Gala, her blue conceptual Gaurav Gupta dress to the Grammys and appearing to her community service in Margiela Tabis.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour
Beyoncé’s Renaissance: World Tour was nothing less than a masterclass with the singer completing 79 dates resulting in the second highest grossing tour by a female musician ever. Beyoncé will always be held to the high standard of, well, being Beyoncé, but there was something about this tour in particular that captured the world and made them part of the BeyHive again. Whether it was the viral moments like the everybody on mute challenge and her daughter Blue Ivy appearing to perform with her, or her custom looks from Loewe and Thierry Mugler references in the outfits, everybody wanted a ticket and rightly so.
The return of the ‘Houston Hottie’
After taking a step back from the spotlight, Megan Thee Stallion had a few public appearances this year before returning back to music, including an appearance on the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscar After Party and breaking the internet when she threw the first pitch for her hometown’s baseball game. It was heartwarming to see the self-proclaimed Houston Hottie being championed after the rough ride she’s had in the public eye over the past few years and she looked stunning doing it (no thanks to the military training vlogs we’ve been getting on her Instagram). The rapper then returned to music independently with her second collaboration with Cardi B and her song ‘Cobra’, a fantastic rock-rap fusion track where she opened up about how she’s been at rock bottom, accompanied by a beautifully shot video.
The Evolution of Jacob Elordi
Jacob Elordi’s journey from the star of cringey romcom Kissing Both to Hollywood’s newest it-boy and street-style phenomenon needs to be studied. Ladened with Bottega Veneta handbags and witty interview responses, I have no doubt his team has sent him through military personality and style training in the lead-up to the releases of his films Priscilla and Saltburn this year to shed his image post Euphoria, but the work has paid off. I’m officially on the Elordi Express for 2024.
Pamela Anderson goes makeup-free
90s sex symbol Pamela Anderson ditched the eyebrow pencil and overlined lips she is known for this year as she continues to step out makeup-free. Despite thousands of people now trying to recreate her ‘Pamcore’ look in 2023 with the return of eyebrow plucking & smokey eyes, Anderson first debuted her ‘makeup-free era’ during Paris Fashion Week in September (The Vivienne Westwood look being one of my favourites from the year), and stepped out fresh-faced again at The Fashion Awards. Though it shouldn’t be anything groundbreaking, it was nevertheless refreshing seeing someone known for their glamorous image continue to go natural in the dawn of Instagram filters and cosmetic fillers.