Air Flower. Susan Fang SS22

After a week-long blog pause caused by a major computer crash, I’m back! I planned to write about Susan Fang‘s enchanting spring-summer 2022 collection a week ago, but then my Mac’s hard drive went dead… luckily, it all ended well. Fang is a highly emotional designer in tune with the tenor of our times. Shown on a lightly misting runway in Shanghai back in October, the collection took texture to extreme and radical new places: she’s created a new material technique of folding tulle she calls “air flower” inspired by broken flowers and sliced fruits that repeats across the body in open-weave, netlike dresses, tightly latticed minis, and explosive, ombré poufs. The pieces are instantly appealing in both a visual way and in a sensory one, thoughtful to the bodies inside them and the observers taking them in. The exuberance and joy in each of Fang’s pieces belies an underpinning of sadness, though; like the best Dutch still life or memento mori, her frilly garments mark a passing of time or encapsulate the multiplicity of time itself. She quotes Einstein’s Dreams, a 2004 novel by Alan Lightman about the creation of the theory of relativity: “Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself. The world repeats itself, precisely, endlessly.” Her work is almost precise, marked by engineering and repetition, but it’s never without a thoughtful touch. When she speaks about regenesis, self-love, and progress, you get the sense she operates in that special place between science and art. Place Susan Fang on your fashion radar!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Focus On: Jan / F / Chodorowicz

Finally, a delightful dash of refinement appears on the Polish fashion scene. Meet Jan / F / Chodorowicz, the womenswear designer and recent graduate of Central Saint Martins MA course, and his brilliant SOCIALI/S/TE collection. Chodorowicz’s debut line-up introduces the audience to his two favourite meeting-points: the codes of haute couture and workwear. For the collection, Jan was simultaneously inspired by the glamorous Truman-Capote-kind-of-women, and photographs of working women in socialist Poland – visions of strikingly contrasting femininity that collided at one point in history, when Jackie Kennedy and Lee Radziwill came to Warsaw in 1970. The collection is a capsule wardrobe for a contemporary, charismatic and business-ready woman, a modern-day lady who is in control of her narrative and expresses her confidence through uncompromising total looks. The dominating, deep tone of blue is a reference to classic workwear, which is combined with fine wools in windowpane and houndstooth patterns, all fully bonded with silk satin to create a chic, couture-ish silhouette. Every outfit has a matching pair of gloves and tights that convey the dynamic blue lines that run through the entire collection, making the looks not only feel lady-like, but surprisingly also utilitarian. Keep Jan on your radar – for more of his works, follow the designer right here.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Look-book: photography by Łukasz Kuś, make up by Marianna Yurkiewicz, styling by Marcela Stanczyk & special thanks to Krystyna Engelmayer Urbańska and Jula Strużycka.

Focus On: Thebe Magugu

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Thebe Magugu staged his debut presentation at Paris fashion week after scooping the prestigious LVMH prize last autumn. The first African designer to win in the competition’s seven-year history, Magugu paid homage to his homeland with a photo exhibition entitled Ipopeng Ext, after an area in Kimberley, South Africa, the city in which he grew up. Fittingly, the name itself translates as “to beautify oneself.” Elegant and evocative portraits of Magugu’s local community lined the walls of the museum; they had been captured by two of the continent’s most celebrated young image makers: South African photographer Kristin-Lee Moolman and Sierra Leone–born stylist Ib Kamara. “These people and places were my earliest references,” said Magugu gesturing to a picture of his cousin Smangaliso posing in his neighborhood church wearing a fluffy light blue sweaterdress. Exquisite reminders of Magugu’s childhood were threaded throughout the collection, including a photoprint of his aunt’s iron roof that was abstracted to look like distressed denim on a marabou-feather-trimmed button-down with matching pants. Inspired by a retro tablecloth, the carnation-print trench coat had a characterful charm that was just as striking. Magugu’s uncle Nephtaly was pictured on a motorcycle dressed in a collared shirt that was covered in an illustration of two black women consoling each other by the Johannesburg-based artist Phathu Nembilwi. Beyond telling a very personal story, Magugu’s clothes are often a form of social commentary, particularly as it pertains to women’s rights in South Africa. As the designer explained, the print was a subtle political statement on the country’s rising femicide rate. Perhaps equally radical is Magugu’s unwavering commitment to producing in South Africa. The new logo satchel was handcrafted by artisans in Johannesburg, while his latest knitwear offerings were all made in Cape Town. Magugu is poised to export his special made-in-Africa vision across the globe.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, photos courtesy of Thebe Magugu.