In the growing return to normality, London Fashion Week arrived on cue. And citywide celebrations and excitement are real, this time with runways oozing nostalgia.
On the heels of the Met Gala and VMAs, London Fashion Week makes its back-in-the-flesh debut. After 2 virtual shows and a runway hiatus, the city’s creativity and theatricality still run rampant. Designers and street-stylists alike are looking back – and forward – to freedom and fun.
Back in full swing, creators, celebrities and fashion-lovers have flooded the London scene over the past week. Around 130 designers showcased their flourishing and full Spring/Summer 2022 collections on runways and digital presentations. And the whole week has had gender-neutrality and a sense of historical grandeur at heart.
So without further ado, the crème de la crème of London Fashion Week SS22:
Young menswear designer from north-east London, Saul Nash, opened London Fashion Week with back to school vibes. With new uniform codes and tailored sportswear, the runway became an after-school bus stop hangout. Models sported nylon track pants, shorts and hoodies with string detailing. And backpacks and trainers detailed Nash’s collaboration with Nike. A standout was the reversible nylon cagoule and a trenchcoat that transformed into a bomber.
The collection was heartfelt, considered and modern London. Hoods were printed with images of Nash’s school Travelcard – included to support free public transport for children and teenagers which is currently under threat in London. And details like a rubber key ring represented Nash’s Bajan and Guyanese heritage.
Supriya Lele’s collection was one of my personal favourites. The show featured signature keyhole cutouts, ruched leather, chiffon ribbon details, and asymmetric and transparent layers. Lele also embedded her heritage with a fusion of British and Indian clothing that has long marked her work. Ruched bras and cropped tops paid tribute to sari tradition.
With sought after dresses and her eye-catching use of colour, Lele’s simplicity provides a carefully curated elegance. The collection combines sexiness and comfort to produce timely going out ‘fits. Though the runway saw mainly classic silhouetted models. The show would have been elevated with more variety of body types and different sized models – many of which boast the label outside of FW. But needless to say, the looks were cool and classy. And with influencers and celebrities already wearing Supriya Lele, the designer is definitely one to keep eyes on.
Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault’s KNWLS “adrenaline” collection saw the thrill of live fashion shows remembered during their show. Set in an underground carpark near Oxford Circus, models strutted through patches of light to a roaring soundtrack. And the backdrop only enhanced the designs. Present were KNWLS favourites: waist-snatching bustiers, low-rise pants, sheer mesh, elaborate riffs and sensual cuts.
And it saw some brand expansions with the unmissable earth palette and creamy neutral tone swirled around tiny hot pink accessory detailing. Plus, the brand’s use of leather, mixed textures and stretch-jersey made them distinctive. And juxtaposed designs of snakeskin, leather tassels and corsets brought a touch of the Wild West. The duo brought back the excitement and highs of the runway experience.
Undoubtedly, Edward Crutchley brought a LFW Collection to remember. With ball gowns, suits and brocade fabrics, Crutchley brings an ode to the past. Inspired by queer culture in the 18th century the show was relevant, tasteful and classical. Providing regality and royal looking models, the designer makes a statement that queer culture has been part of London life for centuries.
And with a variety of silhouettes wearing contemporary loose tailoring to cropped bustiers and old century-gothic robes, the collection was unparalleled in the week. Distinct patterns, and the brown and light green palette were signatures. It’s safe to say that we’ll be thinking about it for a while.
Designer Maximilian Davis returns with 24 looks born out of London culture and traditions of clubbing and sea life. Scant cutouts, minimalism, detailed tailoring and wet looks went noticed. Maximilian’s proposes outfits for the summer. With suits, bandeau tops, micro-skirts and sheer looks, he fuses aquatic freedom and summer love with geometric construction.
Inspired by his grandmother’s upbringing in Trinidad, Maximilian fights the racial connotations of certain types of clothing. With fans like A$AP Rocky, Michaela Coel and Rihanna, we’re sure bigger lies ahead.
David Korma brought the party to London Fashion Week. Presenting a collection you’d see in Vogue or on the Red Carpet, this was all glitz and sophistication. So it only makes sense that Korma has famous fans including Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, and Beyoncé. Evening gowns, sequin-framed cut outs and gloves combined sporty with old Hollywood. And it’s just in time, with hopes for going out again soon.
Appearing at the medieval church of St Bartholomew the Great in London, from ruffels to rituals, the show felt religious. And the Religion: Simone Rocha. Pearls and layers of white broderie anglaise, lace and tulle boasted new life and new beginnings. Rocha presented the theme of rebirth, as seen in post-natal inspired bras. Plus with a Her Majesty The Queen x 90s rock fusion, the whole affair was regal.
Preen by Thornton Bregazzi
Digitally presented, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi deserved a double-take. The innovation and designing talent was clear. An as a hopeful ode to a former London, vivid colours, eye pieces and mis-matched patterns stood out.
Skilful draping, eye-catching colours, hanging fabrics, pinched waists, and bright frills made up Richard Malone’s spring/summer 2022 collection. Emerald greens, cobalt blues and bright oranges were standouts. The collection was nostalgia and theatrical with circular forms inspired by celebratory decorative rosettes.
S.S Daley’s collection took the form of a play, performed and written by a cast of the National Youth Theatre. Based on the foundations of English public schools, the pieces are reminiscent of Eton and Oxford College-style clothing.
The show was a stand out in the week. 18-24 year old actors took over the New Gen show space with a three-act drama producing tensions around class, masculinity, race, sexuality, same-sex love, and institutionalized violence in British public schools for boys. The show saw an influential crossover of creative industries.
“What we’re doing here is bringing out the human story, the shared lived experience of these 10 incredible people who all identify as male.”
London-based Chinese designer Yuhan Wang had appeared previously under mentorship of Fashion East. But she arises with her own solo collection for SS22, and statement. The beautifully bittersweet collection was born out of sadness and frustration over violence against women and girls in London. Wang’s SS22 collection was in part a protest to the tragedies of female death.
“Young, strong-minded women prepared for death in life,” said the designer before the show. “That foresight is invaluable in cherishing life in the now.”
The collection was hyper-feminine, elegant and traditional. Wang drew inspiration from Chinese femininity and Victorian-Era photographs of North American frontierswomen and ranchers. Lace and tapestry pieces, patterned blazers, embroidery slippers and sheer gloves were tropes. And symbolism of armoury protested ideals that guns can protect women, and reflected that they are part of the violence against women all over the world.
It’s the 21st century—women shouldn’t feel vulnerable or live with fear,” said Wang.
BEYOND THE RUNWAY: STREET STYLE
LFW was a striking celebration leading the way to the other 2 big fashion weeks coming. Few designers held back. Feeling like a huge city-wide party now come and gone, it was filled with splendour and grandeur.
However while the show was filled with creative spirits and high hopes, it lacked the extent of body representation we were getting familiar with during New York Fashion Week.
But as always, what’s missing on the runways can more than be found on the inspired streets of London:
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