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Ryan Lo AW16
Backstage at Ryan Lo AW16Photography Chloé Le Drezen

Ryan Lo brings Chinese New Year to LFW

Based on references ranging from Mulan to Chinese TV dramas, the designer draws from his heritage for a celebratory collection imbued with hyper-femininity

With a set that came complete with replica Gary Card-created arches designed to mimic the aesthetics of Chinatowns worldwide, yesterday designer Ryan Lo took inspiration from Chinese New Year for his AW16 collection. This season (his seventh) saw Lo turn introspective, getting to grips with his heritage but also marking ten years of living in London. “It was about my childhood memories," he said backstage. “It’s like revisiting all these things as a new person.”

Lo has always drawn on fiction and fantasy to create his characters, from SS16’s iridescent mermaids to AW15’s brooding Anna Kareninas. Similarly, this collection was based on a plethora of references, including Mulan, 30s Shanghai, and Chinese TV drama My Little Princess. These were Lo’s starting points, reworked in his signature more-is-more style and confectionery tones. Floor-length dresses in sheer tulle were reminiscent of a style of tea dress worn in Hong Kong, which Lo described as "very English but Chinese as well”. Bias cuts, lace and Chinese lotus and blossom motifs retained a period feel, while his signature palette and splicing together of fabrics brought each look up to date.

Lo describes himself as “greedy” when it comes to the sheer volume of fabrics he incorporates into his designs. This season, he was extravagant too, using layer upon layer of ruched tulle to create party dresses, hundreds of diamante gems to make jewellery and lavish faux fur for teddy bear-shaped stoles. It was femininity at its best – bold and extravagant, blending old dynasties and modern girlishness.