By Pema Bakshi

50 Shades: How Grey Became the Unlikely Hero Trend of the Season

So long, Barbie pinks... a new era begins.
Gabrielle Union grey trend
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 13: Gabrielle Union is seen in grey outfit by Michael Kors, arriving at the ‘Good Morning America’ Show on June 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Pink has been somewhat of a buzzy hue as of late, thanks mostly to the hype around Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie film. But it seems the reign of Barbiecore brights in fashion—and, apparently, paints—may be coming to an end, with a new colour emerging as an unlikely seasonal hero: grey.

It’s been a year since Pierpaolo Piccioli’s “Valentino Pink” debuted on the runway, and just as long since Anne Hatahaway’s viral Barbie moment. But these moments triggered a movement, and pretty soon, iterations of the hue had proliferated pop culture, finding a place on every red carpet and many, many, designer collections since. But though Gerwig’s film is set for a July release, the sun may already be setting on the pink mania as celebrities begin dialling down the saturation. 

Grey, as lacklustre as it may sound, is quickly becoming the season’s most versatile trend.

While we’ve never shied away from the shade, its timing is what really intrigues us. With the Northern Hemisphere in the throes of summer, the unorthodox colour trend feels almost inappropriate, given we’re so wired to reach for vibrant hues and prints in summer. But in 2023, we’re not above biting the thumb at fashion’s rulebook, and it seems many are keen to embrace a more low-key summer vibe.

So, how did this all happen? As much as we’ve taken inspo from collections by Dior, Miu Miu, Thom Browne, The Row, and Louis Vuitton, Hollywood has seen the biggest surge. It all started with Margot Robbie in a strapless top and skirt set by Australian designer Christopher Esber. While the actress could look chic in a burlap sack, it was impossible to ignore the impact of this look—and the sophisticated edge that the grey hue imparted.

Margot Robbie Christopher Esber
Margot Robbie in Christopher Esber / Image via

Not much later, reverberations were felt as other heavyweights in the celebrity style set began making the case for grey in summer.

In May, Hailey Bieber stunned in a shimmery grey tube dress from N21’s pre-fall 2023 collection while attending a Rhode Beauty launch in London. Taking it a step further, she accessorised with monochromatic grey pumps.

grey colour trend
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 17: Hailey Bieber is seen leaving Rhode launch party at Chiltern Firehouse on May 17, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Ricky Vigil M / Justin E Palmer/GC Images)

On a hot day in Rome, Zendaya put her stamp of approval on the colour with a sleeveless t-shirt dress as she spent the day out and about in the Italian capital. Though the Yayoi Kusama X Louis Vuitton tote was a luxurious addition, the outfit proved how grey works outside of the office.

grey colour trend
ROME, ITALY – JUNE 9: Zendaya is seen shopping on June 9, 2023 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by MEGA/GC Images)

Just a couple of days later in London, Jennifer Lawrence made waves in this impeccable asymmetrical set by her go-to label, The Row. Not only did she school us on the right accessories—the red pendant necklace sure does pop—but she proved how grey can be an elegant changeup from the trusted all-black look.

grey colour trend
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 12: Jennifer Lawrence is seen out and about on June 12, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by MEGA/GC Images)

On the same day across the pond, Eva Longoria took on the trend with a darker slate-toned suit set that complimented her diamond earrings perfectly.

grey colour trend
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 12: Eva Longoria is seen out and about on June 12, 2023 in New York, New York. (Photo by MEGA/GC Images)

Though it’s no surprise that Rosie Huntington-Whiteley loves a neutral outfit, this head-to-toe grey look was made all the more perfect with her choice of a berry lip.

And in an uncanny twist, Gabrielle Union also opted for grey with a Michael Kors look for an appearance in New York City the following day. Not only did her sweater dress and coat match in tone, but the actress went all in with bold grey accessories—and it worked very well, if you ask us.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley grey dress, grey colour trend
LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 12: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is seen on June 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

While some Puritans may say that the rules are the rules and grey is staunchly not a summer colour, we can’t deny the statement that these celebrities—and their coordinating timing—mean something big. After all, these aren’t just any celebs. Each one never misses a beat in fashion, and consistently proves their style know-how time and time again.

If you ask us, the grey trend is just ramping up, so we’re lucky we already have a tonne of outfit inspiration for when we give the look a go. As demonstrated by the above, grey is clearly so much more than a boardroom mainstay, and has the versatility to be worn in any way and on any occasion.

This story first appeared on GRAZIA International.