LONDON DIGITAL S/S ’22
The first digital-only London Fashion Week brought together a hugely diverse series of shows and subject matter from Syria’s Six Day War to Cecil Beaton’s ‘Bright Young Things’. From Ahluwalia to Qasimi and Reuben Selby, here are the highlights.
This was a big week for Priya Ahluwalia, she presented her S/S22 collection Parts of Me, her first featuring womenswear, launched her Ahluwalia X Mulberry collaboration, and scooped the BFC/GQ Menswear Designer Fund Award. Parts of Me was presented as a short film, directed by Akinola Davies Jr. The collection celebrates Afro-Caribbean hair artistry, symbolism and rituals through braid-inspired seam lines, prints and embroidery. ‘The film is more a celebration of black hair and inviting people to take time and think about it in a really beautiful way,’ she told the Guardian.
Bethany Williams continued to work with the Magpie Project (a charity that supports women and children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness) for her new collection All Our Stories. Story-telling workshops with the families provided the inspiration for Melissa Kitty Jarram’s cheery bold prints. This is the first collection that Williams has created which is fully socially produced, from the woven pieces and the knits, all the way through to how they’re stitched together.
For Thea Bregazzi and Justin Thornton, the pandemic has taught them to make use of archival materials and focus on smaller collections. Inspired by the Bright Young Things exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, a collection of Cecil Beaton’s photographs taken in the 1920s-30s. The idea of interchangeable styles was key – Poplin poet sleeves and pie-frill collars were all detachable and transformed masculine cable-knit tank tops. Noteworthy were the limited-run sequin dresses made from recycled vintage garments.
Nicholas Daley also presented a short film by director Akinola Davies Jnr (who walked in Daley’s graduate show in 2013). Titled Return to Slygo it forms part of his current multi-sensory exhibition at Now Gallery. It’s an ode to community and a musical interchange between black British artist of different generations, highlighting the importance of cultural legacies. The fashion remains authentic. The influence of his parents’ Edinburgh grassroots club night, Reagge Klub, is seen on a T-shirt print.
Robyn Lynch partnered with Columbia to rework their deadstock pieces into her signature designs. She transformed garments without erasing their features, turning ski trousers into jackets where the original pockets remain functional. When piecing her jigsaw designs together she uses a mixture of her chunky cable knitwear, nylons made using ocean waste and biodegradable textiles. Noughties nostalgia runs through the collection, which pulls on the Columbia aesthetic of the era which Lynch remembers: ‘The Columbia puffer was like our unofficial school jacket’.
The poem Between Roses and Ashes by Syrian poet Adunis written in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967 gave creative director Hoor Al Qasimi her starting point for the collection. An architectural theme ran throughout referencing Islamic and brutalist architecture. Qasimi worked with the Irithi contemporary crafts council on hand-crafted garments and accessories using traditional UAE weaving and macarame techniques, such as safeefah – a weave native to the Emirates – is used on a denim jacket, as pocket detail and on large fringed tote bags.
Reuben Selby’s second collection took inspiration from his mother’s home in the Philippines, taking cues from the aerial landscapes of rice paddies, traditional dress, martial arts and brutalism. Selby collaborated with British artist Alexander James, whose artwork was used to create a print, as well as painting directly on to some garments. Sustainability is at the core of the collection, with 95% made using deadstock fabrics, outerwear made using plant-based wadding and cactus leather jackets and trousers. The set was made using recycled cardboard.
Auroboros is the first brand to present a digital augmented reality collection at LFW, which is now available to buy through DressX. They partnered with the Institute of Digital Fashion to transform one of their digital designs into an AR garment that could be used on snapchat by scanning QR codes on billboards across London, making fashion week accessible to a wider audience. According to the IoDF, this IRL X URL activation shows how digital fashion can pivot from ‘viewing’ to ‘wearing’, a topic that’s been the shadow surrounding digital fashion and fashion weeks in recent seasons.
Established by Jordan Bowen and Luca Marchetto, JordanLuca fuses Italian heritage with the raw intensity of London. SS22 is a post pandemic rebirth and an appreciation for the here and now. A defiant punk theme ran throughout, seen in the kilts, mesh tops and heavy boots. Tailoring in mint green and white contrast mod polo shirts and sporty drawstring parkas.
Photography: London Fashion Week