We're Entering an Age of Accessorizing Like Heathens

Prada, Etro, and Fendi want us to tap into gluttonous glamour.

Etro, Prada, and Fendi's maximal accessories at Milan Fashion Week.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Miuccia Prada has spoken: Fall 2024 will include kooky little hats—and many of them. Her and Raf Simmons’ latest Prada collection featured a hodgepodge of funny feathered caps, flower petal-covered pageboys, and pilot hats swathed in rainbow velvets. But it didn’t end at head-scratching headwear. Mrs. Prada, mother to many, flooded Milan Fashion Week with maximal accessories of all sorts.

Tired of carrying your handbags the normal way? Prada unveiled micro-belts that sit at your elbow and clip to a bag’s top handle, relieving your hands of the burden. If you’re craving more eccentric accouterments, how about a crocodile leather compact that affixes to the exterior of your tote bag? Or perhaps a Little Bo Peep ribbon-bow belt? After all, girlhood has no expiration: “It’s strange because every single morning I have to decide if I am a 15-year-old girl or an old lady,” Prada recently told Vogue.

A model walks the runway during the Prada Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 2024-2025 fashion show as part of the Milan Fashion Week.

A brigade of models wearing an assortment of Prada's delightful hats.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There is some practicality in Prada's new accessories (the hats do go on your head, and their brims would block the sun). But primarily, they're for play—and Prada wasn't the only Italian fashion house reveling in decoration for decoration's sake. Fendi and Etro also debuted a curious selection of ornamental pieces with a tongue-in-cheek approach to utility. Considering fashion has been pejoratively labeled as 'frivolous' for eons, it's thrilling—subversive even—to focus just on the fun.

A model walks the runway at the Prada fashion show during the Milan Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2024

Here, a model rests her weary hands and lets Prada's elbow belt do the heavy lifting.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fendi’s Fall/Winter 2024 collection was another feast of flavorful accessories. Dangling leather baubles and knots hung from Baguette Bags and chains that served as capital-S Statement necklaces were peppered throughout. Some models wore stacks three, four, and five stitched leather bangles; others walked the runway wearing sweater sleeves on just one arm in a magnificently strange styling choice.

In the show notes, the Italian brand explained its thematic inspirations: “Utilitarian and extravagant. Simple and theatrical. Salon and street. Simultaneously practical and playful, a sense of duality–a very Fendi quality–infuses the collection.” The contractions were delightfully confounding, with a realness that tapped into the current of womanhood. We are, ultimately, complex creatures.

Model at Fendi Fall/Winter 2024 wearing maximal accessories like leather bangles and a knit sweater sleeve

At Fendi, creative director Kim Jones integrated moments of whimsy via lone knit sleeves and wide, golden-stitched leather bangles.

(Image credit: Fendi)

Etro, too, offered its own quirky assortment: knit scarves that swept the floor, floppy fringe beanies reminiscent of ‘70s shag carpets, and micro metallic bucket bags (the types you’d dress up your most prized doll with). Bohemian charms dangled from woven bags in Jane Birkin-inspired stylings, and models wore sculptural bangles that you’d spot on the wrist of your favorite oddball art teacher. But what set my maximalism-loving heart aflutter was the beaded, leather macrame key chain carrying—most bewilderingly—an apple. 

A model in Etro Fall/Winter 2024 carries a maximal accessory of a macrame apple holder

Because of course—who hasn't wished for a separate accessory to carry around their produce?

(Image credit: Etro)

Fellow fashion journalist Alexandra Hildreth was equally as bewitched by Milan’s maximal accessories, particularly Prada’s fabulously feathered caps, which she anoints a staple of the new “modern suffragette” uniform. She and I bonded in our Instagram DMs about the magnificent stupor we now find ourselves in post-Prada. Hildreth called out how such wonderfully weird hats create a level of intrigue: “Maybe the hat was bought in a small boutique in the Riviera after a wrong turn down a side street, or maybe it was bought at an old-school haberdashery on the Lower East Side. Who cares? Keep them guessing!”

A woman who wears a Breton cap covered in brunette feathers that are combed over to look like bangs contains multitudes. She isn’t doing a TikTok ‘fit check to reveals every detail of what she’s wearing. She’s one of one—take it or leave it.

Prada fall winter 2024 maximal accessory

On a bad hair day, throw on a hat like this.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hildreth is excited by the onslaught of eclectic headwear throughout fall 2024’s circuit and sees it as a signal of a potential turning point. “It’s not that we’re seeing hats on the runway for the first time, it’s the kinds of hats we’re seeing,” she says. “Wide-brimmed cowboy hats, ultra-feathered sailor caps, textured scuba knits—all point to vintage ideas of glamour.”

An absurd hat—or a bulky bangle, or a crafty apple holder—harkens back to an era when people accessorized like heathens and just for the hell of it. There were no micro-trends or -cores to consider. Women would pop on a pillbox hat to go grocery shopping or slip on a pair of leather gloves to walk the dog because dressing up meant something. And like them, we could all be a bit more gluttonous with our glamour. 

Emma Childs
Fashion Features Editor

Emma Childs is the fashion features editor at Marie Claire, who writes trend reports, long-form reported features, and shopping guides. Previously, she was Marie Claire's style editor, and wrote for The Zoe Report, Editorialist, Elite Daily, Bustle, and Mission Magazine. She studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University Lincoln Center. When she's not writing fashion deep-dives, you'll find her stalking eBay for designer vintage, reading literary fiction on her Kindle, and baking in her tiny NYC kitchen.