London Fashion Week, known for its elevation of emerging talent, did not disappoint in its four-day schedule of both in-person and digital presentations. With household names such as Victoria Beckham, Burberry and JW Anderson missing from the week’s events, gaps in the programme were filled by a variety of up-and-coming designers eager to make a statement. This year’s graduates from UAL’s London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins, two of London’s most prestigious fashion universities, showcased their final year collections on Friday and Sunday respectively.
Presentations from more well-known names such as Molly Goddard, 16Arlington and Simone Rocha were accompanied by newer designers Chet Lo, Saul Nash and Poster Girl bringing together a schedule of expansive designs which challenged the traditional boundaries of British fashion. Here are some of Kindred.’s favourite collections from London Fashion Week.
Simone Rocha - Children of Lir
Inspired by the Irish myth of the Children of Lir, in which the four children of King Lir were cursed by their wicked stepmother to live as swans for 900 years, Simone Rocha presented her AW22 collection at Lincoln’s Inn in Camden. Featuring sheer fabric with swan embroidery, ribbons and hemlines embellished with feather details and white ruffle panelling embedded into jackets and coats, Rocha included subtle nods to the tale throughout her collection. The designer took a turn from her usual ultra-embellished dresses, focusing the embellishments on the accessories instead, with her signature pearls added to socks, gloves and shoes, alongside jewelled eye looks from make-up artist Thomas de Kluyver. The exaggerated silhouettes and subtle details created mythical imagery, referencing back to her inspiration. Attended by English artist FKA Twiggs and fashion blogger Susanne Lau, who both wore pieces from the designer’s SS22 collection, the show was one of just a handful of well-known names to grace this season's LFW schedule.
S.S. Daley – Upstairs, Downstairs
Semi-finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize, Stephen Stokey-Daley’s AW22 collection examined the class divide of the present day through the lens of the 20th century stately home. A big fan of in-depth research, Daley based his collection off Chatsworth House, the long-standing home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and Tatton Park, a 15th century stately home which is now owned by the National Trust. Split into two, the presentation began with a series of darker and more formal looks, followed by lighter colours and garden-inspired designs. Daley’s collection featured oversized wide-leg trousers, floral patterned shirts, a trench coat and jacket embellished with drawings of various birds, and a statement tartan trench inspired by a photograph of Princess Diana in the 1980s. The designer chose to incorporate performance art into his presentation, adding a queer element to the show as couples of all genders embraced and moved about the set, which emulated the interior of a stately home in reference to the restriction and oppression of homosexuality at the time. Highlighting the upstairs-downstairs concept of elite households of the past, Davey’s collection commented on classism in the wake of the government’s lockdown scandal.
Saul Nash – Ritual
Menswear designer Saul Nash explored the rituals and folklore which bind people together. Drawing inspiration from British Afro-Caribbean culture and his Guyanese heritage he presented a collection of high-tech activewear accompanied by a short film in memory of Gee Artery, “iconic barber and grandfather of Kensal Rise,” who passed away in January 2022. Featuring panelled jackets and trousers with detachable sleeves and hoods for customisable sportswear, baseball-style tops with Guyana printed across the chest and zip-ups printed with mermaids in reference to Yemọja, an orisha in Yoruba religion. Nash, a finalist for this year’s International Woolmark Prize, also incorporated wool throughout his collection including a full wool tracksuit and scarf in a matching pattern resembling Guyana’s landscape, which was made by waving the country’s flag over a projector. The designer’s second solo presentation, the collection made for a powerful start to LFW.
Erdem - Cabaret
Inspired by a group of female artists from the 1930s, Erdem Moralıoğlu’s AW22 collection drew from the lives of dancers Anita Berber and Valeska Gert, painters Jeanna Mammen and Elfriede Lohse-Wachtler, and Austrian photographer Madame d’Ora. Held at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, models walked a runway lit by columns of light accompanied by a live piano performance which emulated the dark atmosphere of a cabaret. Erdem’s collection referenced gender fluidity and the underground queer culture of the Weimar era, featuring an array of tailored jackets and dresses, black bustier tops layered over flapper style gowns, leather studded gloves, sequined headpieces and scarves. Using lace, pearl beading, gunmetal studs, black sequins and long beaded fringe, Erdem’s designs invoked the glamour and spirit of the hidden nightlife of 1930s queer club culture.
Ahluwalia – From Bollywood to Nollywood
Priya Ahluwalia’s first physical presentation since her brand’s establishment in 2018 brought together the designer’s experience of her dual Indian-Nigerian heritage “far removed from a European gaze,” according to the show notes. The brand's focus on inclusivity and sustainability led to a diverse and responsibly made presentation and collection, with all Black or South-Asian models walking the runway in looks sourced and repurposed from deadstock material. Featuring shirts printed with images inspired by Nollywood and Bollywood film posters, pinstripe tailored suits with the designer’s signature wave print and jumbo cord overcoats with patchwork patterns, Ahluwalia pulled from both sides of her heritage for a vibrant array of orange, greens, yellows and blues. Winning the LVMH Prize in 2020 and the GQ/BFC Designer Menswear Fund in 2021, Ahluwalia has made a name for herself as a change-maker in London fashion and her AW22 collection is a clear reflection of that.
Keep an eye out for Kindred.’s coverage of Milan Fashion coming 1 March 2022.