“Giving It Everything”: The Story Behind Knwls’ Adrenaline-Fuelled Show

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KNWLS Spring/Summer 2022 SS22 LFW
KNWLS Spring/Summer 2022Photography by Gabriel Gayle

Design partners Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault share all about their anticipated ‘ride or die’ debut runway show at London Fashion Week S/S22

The exhilarating return of live runway shows has provided a long-awaited breath of fresh air into the world of fashion this past month, with both household designers and exciting newcomers bringing their latest creative visions to life, after what felt like a never-ending, pandemic-fuelled halt. Charlotte Knowles and partner Alexandre Arsenault, of the now-mononymous British brand Knwls, were among those patiently waiting to make their mark at London Fashion Week – an anticipated moment the duo finally experienced with their debut standalone show on Sunday. 

Knowles graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2017 and worked in-house at the likes of Alexander McQueen, Acne Studios, Helmut Lang, and Gareth Pugh before launching her namesake brand in 2018 alongside Arsenault. The two have since built an authentic label that champions femininity and the female gaze through a distinctive aesthetic loved and worn by everyone from Beyonce and Grimes to Dua Lipa and the Hadid sisters. Waist-snatching corsets, mesh materials, low rise pants, delicately structured bodycon dresses, tops with clever cutouts in earthy colour palettes and detailed prints have all become synonymous with Knwls, and the Spring 2022 collection did not disappoint. Aptly titled ‘Adrenaline’, the new collection debuted in an industrial parking garage on Oxford Street, perfectly illustrating the viral brand’s grit and effortless edge. 

“[The theme for the collection was] ride or die. We are quite emotional, we like to design based on how we feel and see where it takes us. For us the energy [at shows] is so important and core to the brand. It was our first standalone show and this is why we called it ‘Adrenaline’ – it’s about the influx of energy and giving it everything you have.

“We really tried to push things to the limit within our capacity. We have a few people in the team now, so it was about working together and seeing how much we could do and how far we could push the collection.

“One of the standout pieces are these really crazy dishevelled dresses we did. I really love the way they move. Our stylist Georgia is pretty amazing, she lives in her own world and defines her own aesthetic rules.

“For the show, the energy of the space was really the most important to us. When we visited it we immediately felt like it was right, intimate and yet impressive. The space is a giant circular car park, with a really low ceiling. It was our first show inside a space that we were able to curate. When we saw it, we were immediately taken by how imposing it looked. With the lighting and the music reverberating on concrete walls I think it really dragged people into our world and hopefully made them want to stay in it.”