From Charles Jeffrey, to Richard Quinn, and Fashion East to Kiko Kostadinov, we round-up the best in show from SS22
When the creative industries were suddenly forced into a psychic break last year, many welcomed lockdown as an overdue escape from the slam of the fashion calendar. Designers quickly made a petrol-spluttering pivot to digital – and with little else going on – fashion people took it upon themselves to repeat the word “phygital” back and forth to one another for months on end. Both were hawked as the industry’s solve-all solution to overconsumption, a silver bullet for its turbo-charged pace, and the increasingly soulless mill of fashion week.
As brands took to video (with varying success) the future of the fashion show began to fritter. What would happen when all this was over, we speculated, were runways becoming obsolete? Like, what’s the point of an in-person show, anyway? Then, just last week – after a sorry two year hiatus – New York made its IRL return. And... people were happy. Designers sent out sexed-up, exuberant clothing while models danced and, sometimes, even skipped down catwalks. There was, for the first time in a long time, a feeling of abundance, or camaraderie, in the air.
And now it’s London’s opportunity to make the case for real life fun. From Charles Jeffrey, to Richard Quinn, and Fashion East to Kiko Kostadinov, the city plays host to landmark brands and young designers alike – showcasing their collections from upended, gaffer-taped sheds in East London before going international. Below, we’re rounding-up the best in show, so keep checking in as the week unfurls.
Laura and Deanna Fanning have spent the last few months feeling wistful and pining for a break. The twin sisters, who hail from Melbourne, Australia, have been reminiscing on all the teenage summers spent feeling the scratch of sand between their toes, enveloping themselves in trashy beach reads with names like “Puberty Blues” and “On Her Knees”. As such, gaudy surfers, sunset colour wheels, and limpet shells infiltrate the SS22 collection of Kiko Kostadinov to woozy effect. Ribbed, upside-down cardigans have been twisted around the body like beach towels strewn over wet skin, low-slung denim comes embroidered with the kind of fruit you might find wrapped in a kitchen towel at the bottom of a beach bag, and nostalgic sarongue-like cotton has been fashioned into kilt-pants and spiral skirts. Turritella shells are strung across necklaces, chokers, and even tacked into grid-like formations on apron skirts. As always, every Kiko piece comes ever-so-slightly warped – as if they had been up-ended in a sudden, but short, riptide.
Saul Nash opened the second day of London Fashion Week, delivering his debut solo catwalk show having graduated from Fashion East during the pandemic. This season offered an autobiographical deep dive, with Nash working back through his teenage years and experience of secondary school, reliving all the moments he had long “swept away”. And while the designer admits that those memories are pretty fragmented now, the body – as they say – keeps the score. Models moved in choreographed throngs, while others broke out into jaggedy movements and distorted solos. Piece by piece, Nash played with and warped the past, deconstructing school uniform staples with magnets, twisted patterns, and ergonomic cut-aways. Short-sleeve shirts were put through crunchy nylons, jersey pullovers were stitched with v-necks to resemble school jumpers, while sturdy-looking track pants took on the shape of supermarket-bought smart trousers. Backdropped by a TFL bus stop, this collection reflected back all the hallmarks of growing up in London – shrunken Just Do It bags, Kickers, and Zip cards, which Nash had printed onto the back of a cagoule.
No surprises that Nensi Dojaka just put forward a tempting proposal that might just convince you to shed your crusty lockdown layers come SS22, as she staged her debut solo show on day one of LFW’s big comeback (god, don’t they grow up so fast?) The newly-crowned LVMH Prize winner of course sent a succession of the skimpy silk chiffon slips she does oh-so-well down the runway, only this season the daring diaphanous looks were paired with something a little more substantial – in the form of high-waisted, slim-fit cigarette pants and boxy blazers with exaggerated shoulders. Dojaka also expanded her colour palette this time around. Previously sticking to a strict goth-friendly line-up of blacks, greys, and browns, SS22 incorporated pale powder and flamingo pink, rust, and red, which snaked around the models’ bodies as subtle accents in seams and straps. An absolutely stunning collection for sure, but one I couldn’t help watching and thinking how good it would look on a curve model or two. Next season?
As someone who’s been shouting from the rooftops about the coming climate catastrophe for the better part of the last three decades, it should probably not come as a surprise that Vivienne Westwood’s SS22 collection is called Save Our Souls, SOS! Deciding to skip fashion week in favour of a digital lookbook for the new season, the downsized offering draws inspiration from the designer’s seminal 1998 show Tied to the Mast. No prizes for guessing that this meant a strong nautical theme ran throughout, with classic Westwood corsets, twisted tailoring, and tartan and stripes all on the line-up. Think modern-day buxom wench or well-dressed pirate and you’ve pretty much got the gist. The ahoy agenda? Alive and well in Dame Viv’s hands.
Since launching her eponymous label in 2018, Yuhan Wang has been exploring femininity with a distinctive blend of watercolour-style floral prints, lace work, and gauzy fabrics — and SS22 is no different. On day three of London Fashion Week, the designer sent yet more whimsical looks down the catwalk, highlighting the female form and then presenting it a bouquet of flowers. Once again, ruched silhouettes were on the menu, with layers of silk, lace, and butterfly prints (butterflies are back, in case you hadn’t heard). A more surprising addition was the series of holsters that models wore down the runway — floral-patterned, of course — serving some serious Annie Oakley vibes, especially when paired with hazy horse girl prints. If Vivienne Westwood’s got her hands full with the ahoy agenda, then no worries: Wang has the yeehaw agenda covered too.
To tumble through the air and find yourself careening through deep, crystalline water is exactly what Korean designer Rejina Pyo sought to emulate for SS22 – both physically and metaphorically. While team GB divers flung themselves above, the label took over the London Aquatics Centre, sending out models in a sweep of zingy swimwear, light-weight dresses, and whimsical shirting. According to the designer, this season’s collection was an homage to the feeling of freedom, evidenced by a splash of sexy, transparent slips and gauzy, beach-style separates. Even on sharp, mega-collared cotton shirts, serious trench coats, and button-up dresses, there was a softness to the collection, embodied by languid sleeves on open-knit sweaters, slack ruching on pistachio-coloured t-shirts, and child-like prints, which were dotted along strap dresses. And, at 35 weeks pregnant, Pyo was clearly looking back over her own childhood, printing her holiday snaps across pencil skirts, wrap-around tops, and intarsia tanks.
As models closed Erdem’s SS22 show, a rainbow slowly came into focus, backdropping the colonnades of the British Museum with some kind of symbolic reverence. What, exactly, it may have signified was unclear, but perhaps 15 years of classic beauty, given that designer Erdem Moralioğlu was marking the label’s anniversary. Despite recent conversations surrounding the museum’s increasingly controversial possession of colonial artefacts, this collection looked towards its historic neighbours – Edith Sitwell, a poet, and Ottoline Morrell, an artist. The silhouettes spoke to their respective 6 foot, 20th century standing, in delicate, floor-skimming floral gowns, romantic, quilted skirts, and fussy, though quite modernised lace dresses. Punctuated by Moralioğlu’s recently established menswear offering, the collection was styled by Dazed’s IB Kamara in brogues, leather gloves, and ornate headwear.
Not technically SS22 – because the Irish designer abandoned the trappings of fashion’s seasonal calendar long ago – Richard Malone’s most recent collection took place below Raphael’s treasured collection of cartoons, housed in the V&A. Malone deliberately juxtaposed his work, which he said was inspired by his grandmother’s scrunchies, next to the grandeur of the museum’s Renaissance paintings. Convulsive rounds of ruched fabric dominated the collection, be it encircling portholes on a men’s vest, a taut, frilled bonnet, or unfurling into distended, floaty tendrils from a tangerine dress. The collection flitted between blown-out, theatrical silhouettes (a lopsided curtain structure hung over one whorled, asymmetrical emerald gown) and smart, restrained pieces developed with Mulberry, like two tone leather trenches, and pinstriped minidresses. Also sending out his own take on the label’s classic silhouettes, Malone used traceable leather provided by Mulberry while its salvaged jersey was swept across the body in dramatic, dimension-defying drapes.
Having grown up in Dublin, Simone Rocha is well acquainted with all the pomp and ceremony of a Catholic childhood. From baptisms, to first holy communions, to confirmations, Rocha has spent the past few months ruminating on her upbringing, only to land upon her own experience now as a mother. She calls the collection a disturbed lullaby – a phrase which could actually be extended to her work in general – and she’s not wrong, there is a sugary, pastoral quality to SS22, buried within layers of ornate tulle, satin ribbons, and ultra-fine knitwear. Her subversive takedown of femininity continues, across pearl-festooned platform clompers, or baby teeth which have been strung along earrings and necklaces. Densely beaded nursing bras were given Rocha’s girly-gruff treatment, as overblown negligees spoke to that nightmarish lullaby the designer referenced.
To wear a Union Jack flag you really have to be one of three things: a middle-aged mother who lovingly decorates her kitchen with “keep calm and drink tea” posters, a boiled-face Brexiteer, or the Stefan Cooke duo, who saw an unlikely fashion reference point in Geri Halliwell (?) this season. Despite the apparent nationalism, however, Stefan Cooke and Jake Burt pressed pause on their deft heritage-bending designs – which usually feels thoroughly modern. Instead, sweatpants came folded upwards into mini shorts as gauze-like vests were stamped in diamond motifs and flesh-baring bandeau tops dominated. No doubt the latter had been inspired by Cooke and Burt’s previous strapped denim jeans or the proliferation of “BBL” fashion that’s currently dominating womenswear. Stefan Cooke added another chapter to its encyclopaedia this season, a logo silhouette of two women dancing, as it pushed its chainmail handbag straps into vests, and condensed its trademark argyle prints into lone cross-sections – distilling the brand’s visual markers into their purest form.
Stylist Marco Vrbos was mincing along Brick Lane when Charles Jeffrey started to pace after him, asking if Vrbos would walk his SS22 show. With bleached brows, and standing at 6 foot something, Vrbos was dressed in, well, very little. It’s unsurprising as to why Jeffrey might have wanted him in his street-cast, then, which was made up of London’s outsider oddballs. Dubbed The Portal, this season’s LOVERBOY outing was staged in collaboration with trans+ talent agency, Wimp, and fellow CSM grad, Bradley Sharpe, at Electroworks. Sharpe kicked off the evening, sending out caged gowns, and tent-like frocks, one of which had been fashioned from luxury bin bags. Then came the trademark LOVERBOY tartan, barrelling down the bowels of the club floor, in hi-shine wax, fastened across the chest with one enormous belt. Though there were plenty of crafty, sculptural pieces, seemingly made from papier mache and bits of recycling, there were just as many LOVERBOY-branded underwear, socks, and frayed logo jumpers, and cutesy Peter Pan-collared shirts. Jeffrey showcased a new hand-painted leopard print, which had been emblazoned across suits and trench coats, while his plaid glinted anew with flecks of glitter on drawstring handbags and tulle-puffed dresses. Over the past few years, as LOVERBOY grew, so too did its shows, once winding up in the British Library just before the pandemic. To return to a heady, tungsten-lit basement, with a motley crew of face-painted creatives, therefore felt like a distinct return to the designer’s early days in Vogue Fabrics Dalston.
Not quite back on the runway this season was JW Anderson, whose SS22 lookbook opened with Juergen Teller – flanked by two car tires in nothing but a pair of budgie smugglers – riffing on all the Page Three calendars of the 00s. As the months roll on, the duo’s (unretouched) models play on all the tropes of classic pin-ups. Mona Tougaard is shot in a PVC, magenta dress, leaning on a pile of tires as if she were an old school Pirelli muse. Jonathan Anderson explored the notion of sound within clothing this season, looking to crunchy, sparkly, knitwear, which he manipulated into megaphone-like whorls, and ruffled peplums for full sonic impact. The designer’s accessories, too, are pumped-up this season, with swollen stiletto soles and blown-up handbag seams in pastel blues and Ferrari reds. Despite the mud and muck of the garage, Anderson’s deft and delicate art school touches still prevail – mini-dresses have been constructed from fine crochet knits while upcycled plastic has been melded into sparkly shoulder-straps and the fringes of laundry-bag shifts.
The last time Richard Quinn took to the runway was in February 2020. It was arguably the show of the season and its vast pink carpet, granny-ish gimp suits, and Pearly Kings and Queens soon hawked the designer as London’s foremost couturist. This week, Quinn returned to schedule, only, this time, his world looked a little different. Starring Bimini Bon Boulash and Lila Moss, gone were the fetishy masks and bodysuits, and in came a slew of block colour, pleated chiffon jumpsuits, their legs pulled taut over shoes. The show’s next chapter was then dominated by extreme (almost Balenciaga) shouldered, floral-blasted coats and suffocating bonnets – their boldness matched only by a sorority of sumptuous gowns. Corseted, puff sleeved, and densely embellished, these were period pieces for today’s red carpet, slit at the skirt to reveal morph-suit leggings and paw-like boots.
Staving off the runway for another season was Nicholas Daley, who presented his collection just a little while before London Fashion Week officially began. According to the designer, this season’s offering was inspired by the legacy of quilting, which has a varied cultural history, being passed down as family heirlooms, becoming symbols of protest, and in Daley’s case, reflecting back the development of Black folk and blues music in the deep south. Forged from the deadstock of past collections, wadded patchwork therefore appears throughout – panelled onto workwear vests, criss-crossed onto striped linen shirts, and draped across the body in Daley’s trademark kimono pieces. As always, Japanese artisans play a major role, developing bespoke prints, which are adorned onto wide leg pants and relaxed shirting. But the collection comes full circle with the help of illustrator Gaurab Thakali, whose artwork – inspired by 70s folk music – has been emblazoned over field jackets and jersey separates.