Emerging from the depths of digital came something rather unusual these past few days: London Fashion Week, in real life. Since September 15, London has played host to some 130 designers and countless parties, as well as the industry’s usual camera-loving hordes gathered outside every venue. In many ways, it felt as though the last 18 months had never happened.
But the return of fashion week was tempered by a sense of nostalgia. From one designer to the next, the collections reflected on the past — some further back than you’d think — while also looking to the future. Labels such as Stefan Cooke refined their signatures, while S.S.DALEY showed the industry how to pull off an unforgettable debut that dominated the conversation on Sunday evening. Above all, it was heartwarming to see the city’s talents back on their feet after a grueling period for young creatives. Spring/Summer 2022 felt like the result of months of calm — and out of that comes chaos and glee.
Below, check out HYPEBEAST’s most noteworthy presentations of the week, as the industry’s attention turns towards Milan.
Most designers, when putting on their first solo show, opt for a low-key debut. Not so, Steven Stokey-Daley. In a collection that HYPEBEAST described as the designer “finding his voice,” Stokey-Daley didn’t just serve up garments, but an emotive mini-play (with help from the National Youth Theatre). But the raw emotion paired with a collection as polished as this made for a debut to remember, showcasing a choice array of paisley silk pieces and oversized knits. Thus far, Stokey-Daley has been best known for his red carpet collaborations with the likes of Harry Styles and Josh O’Connor. At this presentation, he emerged as a designer with a fully-fledged creative vision.
After rapidly gaining attention for his daringly revealing womenswear — which has already been worn by the likes of Rihanna, Zendaya, and Michaela Cole — Maximilian Davis has steadily been turning his attention to menswear. In his first runway collection, as part of the Fashion East incubator program, Davis transposed his slick, sexually charged minimalism onto men’s looks, from block-printed denim to tailored coats backed with tomato-red nylon. Notable, too, were the headpieces, created in collaboration with Nasir Mazhar.
Labrum is another brand that tells a story with everything that it does — its raison d’etre is to uplift and elevate the perception of British immigrants through design. For SS22, the London-based label presented “The Sound of Movement,” a collection informed by the style and culture brought over to Britain in the ‘70s by Caribbean and African migrants. This resulted in purple satin trousers paired with tie-dyed green shirts and matching coats also in purple, as well as coats finished with billowing, curvaceous lapels, crisp double-breasted suits, and macs finished with exaggerated sleeves.
Also presenting his first London Fashion Week runway collection was Saul Nash, who for SS22 rewrote the codes of a school uniform. It was another performative display, seeing models interact with each other as they gathered around a familiar spot — a London bus stop after school — while simultaneously transforming their “school uniforms” into a new look, perfect for staying out past your curfew once the bell has rung. Standout looks included the reversible nylon cagoule that revealed a printed interior and the trenchcoat that became a bomber in the blink of an eye.
Best known as a womenswear designer, Molly Goddard’s signature ruched tulle designs have been aped and copied by pretty much every high street brand. In recent seasons, she has begun turning her attention towards menswear — and her SS22 show, inspired by “baby clothes,” was the fullest expression yet of her men’s design vision. It’s a challenging silhouette, for sure: elongated, babydoll-shaped smocks, worn with jeans and ballet flats. But her sense of color and proportion was compelling.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: the Irish Richard Malone makes his clothes from the scraps, offcuts, and wasted parts left behind by the fashion system. This time, that included a collaboration with Mulberry to make use of their unwanted leather, transforming it into color-blocked shirts, patchworked trousers, and a dual-toned trench. A metallic silver shirt with ruffles was part New Romantics, part Jacobean-era chemises, while tailoring was subversive and somewhat androgynous. This season was the Irish designer’s most flamboyant, esoteric, and pioneering to date.
“Nothing is overworked. Silhouettes are sharp, sexy, precise: important,” read the show notes at Stefan Cooke. For SS22, Cooke and his design partner Jake Burt tapped into the “mythology of contemporary British fashion.” Backed to a thumping techno track, models stomped down the runway wearing dazzling, jingling metal button vests, Union Jack sweaters, and reconfigured satin sleeveless bombers. Thus far, the brand’s signature slashed sweaters have proven to be dynamite at retail, selling swiftly at stockists including Matches Fashion and Browns. This show pushed the label into new territory.
Honorable mention goes to a new name on the block: Daniel Gayle’s label denzilpatrick, which comes with a rich fashion pedigree. Having worked for the likes of Kenzo and Victoria Beckham, the designer wanted to find a more sustainable approach, creating singular pieces from surplus cotton, deadstock denim, and recycled nylon. A cropped argyle-knit vest with matching jeans was atypical yet still masculine, while a dip-dyed aran knit cardigan was a smart addition to an eclectic lineup. One to watch, for sure.