Charlotte Knowles and Supriya Lele dropped subversively sexy collections, while rising label EFTYCHIA took things in a sensual new direction
We’re eyeballs-deep in the SS22 shows and things are looking decidedly sexy for the new season. Between Stefan Cooke’s bondage-y bandage tops and five-inch sweat shorts (the only length that counts, obvs) and Maximilian’s sensual, second-skin bodysuits and slip dresses, next summer, the temperature is seemingly set to skyrocket – and not just thanks to the encroaching climate crisis. Three designers cranking the thermostat up even more than most, however, were KNWLS, Supriya Lele, and relatively new kid on the block, EFTYCHIA. How, exactly? Let’s get into it.
Deep in the bowels of a Central London car park, away from the sheer hell that is Oxford Circus on any given Saturday, Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault’s SS22 cast skulked between concrete columns to a hypnotic, pulsating soundtrack that reverberated through the space like a woozy heartbeat. Appearing in stark flashes of bright white light before being swallowed by the shadows once more, it was as if the models were making their way down a dark highway in the dead of night, lit briefly by the headlights of an approaching car. Fittingly, it was the lure of the open road that inspired the designers this season, with signature distressed leather corsets and cut-out bustiers layered over sheer, floor-skimming chiffon tops that appeared bleached by the sun, and hip-grazing leather flares with finishes that suggested they’d been dragged across tarmac or splattered with thick globs of engine grease. Final flourishes came by way of seriously covetable, Y2K-indebted bags in shades of Pepto-Bismol pink and brilliantly trashy python prints, vertiginous stiletto boots, cowboy hats, and stand-out swinging crystal earrings and cuffs. Consider our bags packed when it comes to this particular road trip.
Back on the runway after an absence that extended even beyond the onset of COVID, Surpriya Lele’s SS22 offering was similarly full of barely-there bra tops, teeny-tiny silk-chiffon skirts, and slinky, spaghetti-strapped slips. Brilliant and beautiful, but for those over a B-cup? Back to the drawing board (where I’ll also be standing, chalk firmly in hand). Beyond underwear masquerading as outerwear – or at the very least blurring the line between the two – were a series of anchoring elements. Leather halter-neck tanks came finished with ruched keyholes flashing sensual glimpses of clavicle, while tailored trousers sat higher on the hip than those proffered by KNWLS – some trimmed with stringy straps and belly chains that snaked around their wearers’ waists. With wraparound minis in diaphanous materials and delicate, hand-beaded chainmail-like sheaths making up the best of the rest, the collection wasn’t for the faint of heart, but offered up a very tempting proposal regardless.
The EFYTCHIA woman, usually suited up in slouchy tailoring and wearable separates, was very much out of office this season. Though not as overtly sexy as Supriya or KNWLS, the rising designer’s collection was deeply sensual, shot through with playful flourishes. Gauzy, semi-sheer tank tops were tucked into loose, high-waisted trousers, while the formality of her earlier tailored jackets was softened by linen mixes and louche cuts – a wider lapel here, a curved sleeve there. With ‘eftychia’ translating to ‘happiness’ in the Greek language, for SS22, the designer looked at the insidious, post-pandemic positivity that’s sweeping social media and beyond right now, imbuing pieces with sardonic slogans including the name of the collection, Happiness Gone Wrong. At the show itself, neon signs flanking the catwalk flashed up with pseudo-affirmations – Live, Laugh, Lobotomy among them – that also ran down sleeves and across casual tees. Never mind those, though – honestly, put that on my headstone.
For more from the SS22 shows, head here.