Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena-Irons’s eponymous label, Chopova Lowena, is a brand new name on London Fashion Week‘s physical schedule. Since Spring 2020, the rising duo has made a name for itself for appearing as if it doesn’t take itself seriously, all while in fact taking the fashion industry very seriously. Through the means of sustainability, and thus, upcycling, Chopova Lowena lends itself well to a world of mishmash designs, referencing everything from the Medieval era and ice hockey to traditional Bulgarian prints, crystals and soft billowing fabrics that float in the breeze. It’s this combination that has made the emerging designer label an instant hit and immediately recognizable — its skirts, loved by all, are seen en masse on the waists of fashion week goers as they twirl around.
With this, Chopova Lowena promises joy; a frivolous nature centered around carefree attitudes and self-expression. The duo’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection, titled “Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose,” opened with its crowd blanketed in darkness. The mania of an audio clip soon transitioned into heavy punk music, in turn setting the tone for the show. Held inside Porchester Hall — a decadent atmosphere clad in wood paneling and draped in red velvet — Chopova Lowena’s first runway show built a sense of nostalgic serenity before it had even started.
But how wrong we were. “Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose” played on Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena-Irons’s Bulgarian roots: “When you see a rose, you smell a rose,” says Chopova. “The ideas we use in the collection give the same kind of signal.” Here, Chopova refers to two ideals; Bulgaria’s central Rose Valley which sees villagers of Kazanlak select their Rose Queen, and the SS23 collection itself.
Injected with their heritage and a strange sense of beauty, alongside a touch of lacrosse, the show was a festival like Bulgaria’s own. Per a festival, it’s about togetherness. Embraced by the ribbon-tied dresses, accented by handmade macramé necklaces intertwined with healing crystals, SS23 plays on native traditions, somewhat looked upon as passé in the rest of the world but are indeed firmly rooted in cultural notions.
Heritage is elevated with the use of Bulgarian textiles forming skirts and vests, but don’t mistake any of this for thinking Chopova Lowena’s playfulness has gone amiss.
Instead, what we got was a full-frontal display of punk chaos. From tinsel sweater vests to enlarged safety pins joining midriffs with jeans, checkered pleated skirts to literal translations of the rose printed across white denim two-pieces, SS23 screamed with energy and anarchy. Children’s toys were plastered across semi-sheer tops, sticking slick to the body, graphics on workers’ pants were equally infantile in the most charming of ways, and a general lack of gender norms came together to put a smile on the onlooker’s faces.
Chopova Lowena has put its attention to brand identity for the past few seasons, focusing on becoming a name without the need for a show. Now feels like the right time. With the last two hectic years, it only feels right that the duo’s SS23 runway delivered the inner angst many of us have held back.
For more standout shows, check out the SS23 collection from Edward Crutchley.