Ero-Chic. Christopher Kane SS22

This might be the season of “sexy”, but nobody does sex in fashion like Christopher Kane. Never vulgar, but always elusive, enigmatic, multi-faceted and exciting. For spring-summer 2022, the designer shot a show in a darkened London warehouse a couple of months ago and released in the middle of Paris Fashion Week. It opens with strong, black patent: straight to the point of a furious kind of erotic chic. Kane girls don’t necessarily want to serve things up on a plate: his talent is for designing ways that play wickedly with all kinds of covert suggestions. Right through the collection there are devices for revealing skin – necklines in little black dresses that hint at fetish but are banded with protective metal; unconventional slits or port-holes in otherwise perfectly proper, covered-up dresses; a sporty crystal mesh miniskirt with a zippered slit. Kane experiments with form, too – and that leads to all kinds of modern-looking techniques. One this season is his play with corrugated shapes – like a scarlet bra top and matching skirt armored with zig-zaggy 3D geometric frills. The thing is, you never quite know where Kane’s references come from – but his career-long insistence on short, leggy going-out dresses means a glut of choices for original-minded girls who are finally, finally out and about at parties and whatnot. One of the inspirations he did allude to is the life of ’50s sex-bomb Jayne Mansfield. She of the overspilling breast – a controversial star who blatantly flaunted her sexuality and incredible body at a time when all that was highly disapproved of. You glimpse her energy behind a diaphanous dress with a pink satin bra formed into sharp geometric satin points: provocative, yes, but also armored with self-confidence.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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.