As cliche as it is to say, it really does feel like fashion is back – at least in a vibrant, optimistic way we haven’t experienced in a while. This September, Fashion Month returned with a bang, kicked off first by New York Fashion Week and ushered through by the VMAs and MET Gala. For the first time in 18 months, we’ve had distinct events and designer-endorsed trends to discuss, celebrity outfits to unpick and – though of course it never really disappeared – a surplus of street style to be influenced by. And now, the fervour has reached British shores; this week saw London Fashion Week spring/summer 22 draw to a close.
It’s not like things have totally gone back to a pre-COVID normal. Where NYFW was eager to dive into the deep end with in-person shows, London dipped a toe. Some designers went all out with runway presentations that bordered on pre-pandemic spectacle – David Koma and Rejina Pyo both at the London Aquatics Centre, Richard Malone at the V&A Museum, Erdem the British Museum and Knwls in the shadowy bowels of an underground car park. However, many others opted to stick with digital-first look book presentations, perhaps afraid it was too soon (Matty Bovan, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Emilia Wickstead and Eudon Choi, to name a few).
It was a tentativeness that matched that of the country, each designer grappling with the rollercoaster of lockdown life in very different ways. After a year when we didn’t know whether we should be staying in or going out; a year of masks and anti-bac, track and trace and the tier system, each designer appeared to ask the same question: what will our connection to fashion be in our new post-COVID world?
Some jumped to the extremes, at either end of the spectrum – at one end, Margaret Howell, sticking to the practical, the utilitarian, the tailored and the muted, finished off with back to school-esque loafers and brogues. At the other, David Koma, who’s futuristic, space age-scuba suit-disco designs were an explosion of neon colours, sequins and feather trims.
The rest? A little muddled and confused between each extreme, though none the less for it. At Mark Fast, club wear, activewear and rough and ready, painted denim competed for attention. At Rejina Pyo, relaxed, holiday looks went up against bustling, cityscape prints. Matty Bovan styled his models (in chaotic, collaged crochet blankets, upcycled ball gowns and kitschy 1970s patterns) with fuzzy, UGG style slippers and even Molly Goddard, known for her signature explosions of tulle, took a more sedated, practical approach. For SS22, her babydoll silhouettes are still there, they’re just a little quieter; worn over jeans, sweatpants, striped socks and ballet flats. For many, it was a fusion of a high/low, exposed/covered up, relaxed/tailored, neutrals-meet-neon, and toughness versus softness.
So, how are we to make sense of such a turbulent season of style? Despite the myriad messages coming through, there were a handful of trends designers appeared to agree on – whether that be obsessing over the same TV shows (Bridgerton’s corset trend reigns supreme!), getting crafty (crochet and tie-dye), dreaming about the club (rave ready neons), thinking comfort first (in ballet flats, brogues and loafers) or playing dress up with their hosiery draw (statement leg wear). Read on for our guide to each SS22 trend, plus where to shop them now.
Don’t be afraid, wherever you stand on neon shades, LFW has options for you. Just like the season overall, there’s no one way to adapt acid greens and highlighter yellows into your wardrobe. Some designers coyly flirted with the shades. Eudon Choi tempered the vibrancy with sharp tailoring in muted, neutral tones – chocolate browns and light beiges that takes the shades to a more practical, everyday place. Many others embraced the brightness with abandon, clearly having fun with it; none more so than David Koma who translated it into sheer sequin dresses edged with feather trims, futuristic body-con minis with daring cutouts and shimmering trousers. Even Emilia Wickstead traded out her usually muted colour palette for a few pops of acidic yellow, and Erdem, known for classic romanticism, offered us one shimmering, candy apple green gown. Just as dance music exploded during lockdown, inspired by our collective longing for the club, live music, closeness and fun, consider this the sartorial equivalent.
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A complete antithesis of the neon trend was designers’ footwear choices. It may be party on top, but judging by the ballet flats, classic brogues, school boy loafers and slip-on mules marching up and down the catwalks, SS22 is still really all about comfort and practicality. That is not to say flats can’t be fun too. Our favourite is the return of the ballet flat, once popularised by Kate Moss and beloved by teen girls throughout the 2000s, it’s been slowly making a comeback; most recently spotted on the feet of 2021’s It girls, Lily Rose-Depp, Dakota Johnson and Adwoa Aboah. At Molly Goddard, wrap up ballet flats in shades of green, orange and metallic pink were paired with sweet, babydoll silhouettes, baggy denim and sweatpants, and layered over fun, striped tights. A combination that simultaneously evokes a child playing dress up and our own chaotic, lockdown walk styling. Elsewhere, Matty Bovan took comfort to the next level, finishing off some of his looks with chunky, UGG style slippers – reminiscent of the coloured, fuzzy styles we were all obsessed with in lockdown.
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Long live the corset!
We may have all been watching (and loving) Bridgerton last Christmas, but if the spring/summer 22 shows are any indication, designers are still obsessed with lacing things up. After a year where staying protected came literally from keeping others away, we’re not surprised. While, in 2021, corsetry became a fun, escapist nod to the past (Regencycore), for 2022 some designers are keen to make corsets more wearable for everyday; whether that be through styling (over a graphic t-shirt like at Vivienne Westwood) or with their choice of materials (a softer satin at Toga). Many others though appear far more invested in the similarities between corsets and body armour, and the relationship between softness and toughness, such as at Preen By Thornton Bregazzi and Yuhan Wang where corsets were layered over pretty floral print and lace dresses. This even took on a dark, apocalyptic mood at Knwls’ Mad Max-meets-Wild West-meets Y2K show, where models stalked through a shadowy, underground car park. Its Wang’s use of corsetry though, that intrigues us – the designer herself has likened it to a protest, her collection a commentary on violence against women within the UK and her native China. Aside from stiff, leather corsets, she also armed her models with floral-embellished harnesses and gun holsters.
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Leg wear that makes a statement
The last time we had this much fun with our leg wear, it was 2007 and Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf inspired us to don coloured tights. For SS22, Richard Malone is doing the same, offering hosiery in primary shades of blue and green. It seems though that the rest of LFW got the memo about statement leg wear – whatever your poison, there were options for all. At David Koma, it was all about the one-leg stocking look, whether that be adorned with feathers or rhinestones; Yuhan Wang had frilly edge lace tights, Matty Bovan ‘70s print knee-highs, Vivienne Westwood ant-printed stockings and Molly Goddard striped socks. The real star of the show though was Nensi Dojaka’s cut-out tights, classic seams running down the middle and a delicate, tulle flower blooming on one thigh. Having studied lingerie technology, it’s no wonder why Dojaka proves so masterful over such a tricky garment.
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Dubbing his collection ‘Hypecraft’, Matty Bovan probably didn’t realise he was coining the perfect title for one of SS22’s key trends: the hyper fixation many of us had for arts and crafts throughout lockdown, our pandemic hobbies pulling us through the mundanity of each day. Understandably so, a handful of designers leant into traditional crafts this season, whether that be Bovan’s granny square crochet blankets, Nicholas Daley’s tie-dye, Roland Mouret’s and Mark Fast’s hand painted fabric or Rejina Pyo’s exaggerated fringing. Likewise, a number appeared fixated on the very construction of garments – Daley with patchwork and Kiko Kostadinov with exposed seams and pockets sewn on the outside of trousers. One multicolour, patchwork cardigan by Preen By Thornton Bregazzi is even strongly reminiscent of Harry Styles’ J.W.Anderson knit; a viral DIY trend on TikTok which inspired Anderson to release an official pattern.
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