From the swans at Simone Rocha to erotic garden walks at SS Daley; body diversity at Supriya Lele to the sparkly fringes at Stefan Cooke; these are the best collections from London Fashion Week A/W22
“It’s a story that’s always resonated with me since childhood,” Rocha told AnOther of the dark Irish fable that inspired her latest collection, The Children of Lir. Her show, which was held in the archaic, 19th-century Great Hall of Lincoln’s Inn in Holborn, reimagined models as part-human part-swan, in pearl-rimmed balaclavas, skirts stuffed to the brim like goose down duvets, and extraordinary jewel-encrusted eye makeup. As usual, Rocha didn’t give much away – the press notes mentioned sons and daughters, bloodlines, crushed wings and darkness.
“The more privileged you are, the more you appropriate from working-class culture – so why can’t I do the same?” says Steven Stokey-Daley. The Liverpool-born designer and recent LVMH Prize nominee – who began queering the uniforms of the British aristocracy after watching students at Harrow School from his studio at the University of Westminster – showed his new collection at the Old Selfridges Hotel in London on Friday evening. Inspired by Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, Chatsworth House and Princess Diana, the show felt like an erotically-charged walk around a stately garden; shirtless male models walked in open cardigans and coats, knee-high socks with garters, and green wellington boots.
True to form, Fashion East (the most raucous show on the schedule) took place in an east London nightclub. Although the three designers currently showing as part of Lulu Kennedy’s legendary talent incubator – Jawara Alleyne, Maximilian Davis and Chet Lo – showed very different collections, the energy in the room remained at an all-time high. At Alleyne’s catwalk debut, models sauntered slowly down the catwalk blowing kisses to the audience in carefree, safety-pinned shirts and dresses. Asian-American designer Chet Lo looked to the rugged beauty of the Arctic, his spiky, furry creations in sorbet colours providing just the right amount of protection from the elements. Finally, LVMH Prize nominee Maximilian Davis mixed biker codes with 19th-century Caribbean horse riders and the Catholic church; he sent out a series of delicate shearling jackets, leather evening gloves, hoodies with bare legs, and sheer, meticulously form-fitting dresses.
Stefan Cooke – headed up by Cooke and his partner Jake Burt – are quickly establishing themselves as the most exciting menswear brand on the London Fashion Week schedule. At their theatre costume-inspired Autumn/Winter 2022 show, the duo sent cherub-faced, Hedi Slimane-esque male models down the runway in the brand’s signature diamond-slashed jumpers, chainmail polo shirts and spiral-embroidered jeans. Highlights included the delightful miniature tutu belts in pastel colours that tied around the waist like rubber rings made out of tulle, and the slivers of silver tinsel peeking out from underneath bowl fringes. This was “the boy in his way out,” read the press notes.
Portobello Road – that infamous London street, forever immortalised by a foppish Hugh Grant in Notting Hill – is a continuous source of inspiration for Molly Goddard. A Portobello-obsessed family friend provided the jumping-off point for Goddard’s new collection; the woman is described in the press notes as a “a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Mick Jones”. Alongside some androgynous menswear looks, the new show featured zingy jacquard jumpers and cardigans worn over spongy tulle dresses, with trainers and platform lace-up boots in green or orange. Goddard’s woman is west London through and through – she’s the glamorous girl next door, able to mix a slouchy jumper, a statement skirt and a messy bun and still look chic.
Deep in south London at the Chopova Lowena studio, the brand’s founders gush freely about the Simone Rocha show, which they attended the night before. “We really wanted to see a proper show, where you’re actually in somebody’s actual world rather than in a show space,” says Emma Chopova. For now, they’re presenting their collection digitally via a lookbook, although they hope to do a runway show soon – once they do, it’s sure to be one of the hottest tickets on the London Fashion Week schedule (Chopova Lowena inspires a kind of deranged fandom other brands can only wish for). Titled Kiss the Hare’s Foot – a medieval phrase which means “to miss dinner, but savour the leftover scraps” – the collection, shot on a humble iPhone, is inspired by medieval dress and ice hockey. Their absurdist pleated skirts and devilish dresses are back, but knitwear, inspired by Bulgarian traditional socks and tartans, is new.
Conner Ives debut catwalk show was a nostalgic ode to what the designer called his “American female icons”; pop culture figureheads like Adriana La Cerva from The Sopranos, or Andy Sachs from The Devil Wears Prada. “[The collection] is really this idea of an idealised version of my America,” Ives told AnOther. “I could make this into an absolutely tragic story, but where’s the hope in that?” Edie Campbell opened the show in a psychedelic yellow bakerboy cap, while fringed skirts worn over knee-high boots channelled the carefree spirit of Americana. Last year, Ives was a finalist for the LVMH Prize – plus he already has a piece in the Met’s America: A Lexicon of Fashion exhibition at just 25 years old.
For her Autumn/Winter 2022 collection, British-Indian designer Supriya Lele channelled “the mood of a free-spirited motorbike girl” – albeit dangerously baring plenty of skin, aside from one model wearing a delectable, villainous leather trench coat. Sensual cargo trousers, halter neck bras and silky blouses evoked nineties and noughties dressing – although admittedly, at times it was hard to focus on the clothes with Victoria Beckham sitting on the front row. Lele must be applauded for having more body diversity than others on her runway – this season, it often felt as if Paloma Elsesser was being misused as a token curve girl, but not here.
“I don’t think there is much to clothes until people are in them,” Richard Malone once told AnOther. This comes as a surprise, since the Irish designer’s clothes are often so sculptural they could sit in the British Museum and easily hold their own. Malone’s new collection, shown via a set of images shot in the studio, takes his signature, overblown shapes down a notch – ruched, silky dresses and spiralling, frilly trousers feel modern, yet still have what the designer calls “the best bits of 17th-century French court frivolity.”