Surf & Turf. Chopova Lowena SS22

In their South London studio, Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena cut their trippy, sunny spring-summer 2022 collection featuring plenty of tie-dye, surfer-psychedelia nods and details referring to Germanic heritage. Chopova Lowena‘s maniacally structured dresses are almost peerless in the market, and to wear them you have to be ready to attract attention of every kind. Trachten bustiers inspire fitted bodices with cut-out neckline details that carry into the brand’s debut swimwear. Graphics are hand-drawn by Chopova and Lowena, sketchy smiling suns and happy fish blown up large on one-pieces, tees, and leggings. While the pair are best known for their carabiner skirts, the Chopova Lowena universe is expanding. Their wide-leg trousers and button-up shirts and jackets are available in a larger range of sizes and in beautiful marbled and flocked prints for guys, girls, and everybody. A fluffy fil coupé blows up their silhouettes and bags into new eccentric shapes, while knit socks, pop-top crochet bras, and enamel animal earrings ensure every corner of the body is covered in a tiny, funny spark of joy. Even as the Chopova Lowena world grows its reach to all genders and ages, the designers are wise to never shake their girlhood: that state of becoming when you are aware of everything, sensitive, strong, and fearless. As other brands cynically mine Y2K nostalgia, Chopova and Lowena are designing for a generation born from it: clothes for those who want to be silly-pretty, soft, emotional, and punkishly themselves.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Majestic. Harris Reed Ss22

Harris Reed‘s spactacular debut show took place in the Serpentine Pavilion with a performance by the artist Kelsey Lu, making this experience even more heavenly and as ethereal as the designer’s spotlight-stealing garments. As you may have already gathered, Reed isn’t your average emerging designer. While he was still studying, a chance meeting with the celebrity stylist Harry Lambert earned him a commission for Harry Styles, whose image was made for the fluid romanticism in which Reed deals. The pop star’s 39 million followers kicked in, and just like that, a star was born. As his debut show demonstrated, Reed thrives in the costume territory. He repurposed bridal and groom’s wear sourced from the British charity chain Oxfam into majestic hybrids of gowns and tuxedos, topping them off with enormous spherical headpieces that have become his trademark. The way he cut his dresses was imaginative and resourceful to say the least. Most successful were the ones that showed more silhouette, like a tuxedo jacket chopped into a bolero and elongated with a veil that cascaded like a waterfall, turning it into a dress. The hats made for the most DIY-looking element of the show and could perhaps have done with some less obviously recycled fabrication. But that wasn’t the point. “Everything is about being huge and being seen,” Reed said. It was true for the outfit he created for Iman at last week’s Met Gala. He spent the fittings talking to the supermodel about her late husband David Bowie, who featured heavily on his collection mood boards, and to whom he paid tribute in a striped glam rock suit made out of strips cut from said second-hand finds. Reed shares his Bowie mania with Alessandro Michele, with whom he interned at Gucci for nine months after being invited to be a part of the brand’s roster of cutting-edge cool kids, who get ferried around the world for events. Harris’ “demi-couture”aims to fly the flag for gender fluidity and nonconformity. He’s also an internet sensation and celebrity favorite, which is a major talent in its own right. And he’s only just begun.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Humor is Key. JW Anderson SS22

Juergen Teller, in all his near-naked glory, fronts JW Anderson’s spring-summer 2022 lookbook. The photographer had convinced the designer that he should shoot himself thus in his underpants with tires. For what is surely an in-joke satire on the Pirelli calendar (and the Italian tire company’s pin-up tradition), fitting right in 2021. Jonathan Anderson has collabed with Teller to produce printed matter, posters, and portraits of contemporary artists to send out in place of fashion shows during the pandemic. For the designer, the relevance of Teller’s work to the current zeitgeist is that there is “no retouching and no filter. You show things for what they are. You show being body-positive. You have to say, well, this is who I am.” Teller’s well-known, art world-sanctioned predilection for naked self-portraits predates the so-called post-pandemic situation by a long chalk. To Anderson, handing him free rein to work with models on the calendar project for spring 2022 satisfied his instinct for “something very blunt” and the fact that “you have to have humor.” Anderson continued: “Before the pandemic, I was showing a lot to gravitate attention. But what I’ve learned is that you have to have a very focused edit. You make your own pace, show what you want to show. My biggest fear is coming through the pandemic and not having changed.” He’s noticed “how excited girls and guys are, coming through this being more body-confident.” What that boiled down to is the “precision” of pieces like the semi-transparent, circular-embroidered, handkerchief-hemmed dresses and a tan leather shift, fastened with buckled straps. The crafty quirkiness of JW Anderson’s signatures is there, all right, in details like strands of upcyled plastic woven into shoulder-strap fringes and mesh mini-dresses. Looking forward, he says he’s serious about the “reset” everyone was talking about a year ago. His Instagram page was cut to three pictures on the day of the collection’s launch. “I don’t want to come through this pandemic being the same JW Anderson as before.” Quite a teaser for what may be to come.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Elevated Classics. Victoria Beckham SS22

Although the collection felt a mild first impression, there are good moments in Victoria Beckham‘s spring-summer 2022 line-up. And it was inspired by Victoria’s husband, David. During the press day of the collection, David Beckham emerged in a pale blue chambray shirt, the kind his wife had referenced in her collection because he wears them on their European holidays and she likes to steal them from his hotel wardrobe. “The oversized chambray shirts feel quite David, with a loose-fitting pant and a beautiful belt. You wanna be that person,” she said. “David always dresses. He always makes an effort. When we’re on holiday in Europe, he has a very pulled-together look, and I want to wear those pieces as well. It’s a shared suitcase.” The menswear gene has always been strong at Victoria Beckham. Following pre-spring’s brand restructure – which merged her two lines into one and reduced her price point by 40 percent – she is refining and enforcing those proposals, demonstrating to customers regular and new that restructuring isn’t the same as compromising. It was clear in the instant gratification this collection offered in the tailoring she credited to her husband, but also in more subversive propositions like a (very elevated) string vest styled with a gold chain, which Beckham attributed to Ray Liotta. “There’s something a little Goodfellas there.” The sleek eveningwear was great, too. As for the collection’s inspirational element of surprise, her husband seemed pleased enough with his new place on the mood board that future collaborations could take place. With a fashion history like David Beckham’s, the possibilities are endless.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Night-Time. Simone Rocha SS22

Spoiler alert: Simone Rocha‘s phenomenal spring-summer 2022 line-up is my favourite collection of this London Fashion Week. It had me feel actual feelings. My first thoughts seeing these looks, put in a cinematic language: an intriguing clash of Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides and Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula. Yes, it’s a rollercoaster comparison. But Rocha’s collections are always deeply personal and are based on her own experiences. The designer gathered her guests at the medieval church of St Bartholomew the Great to attend a processional show spun from the rituals and reality of bringing a baby into into the world. New life, new beginnings, tenderness – it seemed like a touching metaphor for the reunion of people at physical shows in London for the first time since February 2020. Out of the darkness of the ancient setting came Rocha’s women, dressed in layers of white broderie anglaise, lace and tulle. Their shoulders were swathed in christening shawls, their voluminous skirts trailed satin ribbons and their heads were crowned with pearls. “A lot of this obviously came from a very maternal place,” said Rocha. She has recently given birth to her second daughter, Noah Roses, a sister for five-year old Valentine, who sat in one of the front pews between her maternal grandparents Odette and John and delighted in every split second of her mother’s show. The sense of occasion motivated Rocha to concentrate a super-sensual sensory overload of detail into her clothes. “I wanted there to be a lot of texture, because it’s an in-person show, and everyone will be quite close to the garments for the first time,” she explained at a preview in her studio. “I was looking a lot into the way children interpret and wear clothes, but then also birth, the ceremony of christening and communion gowns. And baby pointelle knits, the ribbon threaded through the eyelets. And mohair baby cardigans. And Swaddling. And…” – she laughed – “at the out-of-control body dislocation that going through the whole process causes…” Among the post-natally inspired details were nursing bras – some of them inset with jewels – and the idea of bedclothes and nighties becoming fused. “So there’s kind of a funny, deranged negligee night-time sort of spooky, deranged insomnia theme running through, too,” said Rocha. It might be the first time that post-natal sleep-deprivation and the demands of night feeds have been the inspiration behind a collection. Rocha ended up making lovely coats out of fabrics that looked like antique eiderdowns, one in lavender, another in rose-bud strewn brocade. Gigantic white cotton collars with scalloped edges seemed like bedlinen and ecclesiastical altar-cloths or surplices all at the same time. “I also made a lot of dresses which open at the front and back, which you do need when you’re nursing,” she remarked. “I wanted to support the breasts with corseting, and to release the hips.” The red and black vinyl jackets and laced-up boots represented something darker about giving birth. Among the baby-proportioned tutus were a couple of red geometric bags “shaped like drips of blood.” In the long-awaited event her “come-back” collection was superbly herself – and maybe even more so, if that’s possible.

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.