London Fashion Week’s main message? Sexy is back

·5-min read
 (Evening Standard Composite )
(Evening Standard Composite )

“It’s fantastic once again to celebrate the incredible creativity we have in London,” said British Fashion Council chief executive Caroline Rush at a LFW dinner on Saturday night. And certainly the last four days have been proof that — after 18 months of no in-person events, runways or parties — the city’s creative talents were raring to go again.

While some big names, like Victoria Beckham, Burberry and JW Anderson, decided to swerve shows, many embraced the format in pre-Covid style. David Koma and Rejina Pyo tempted guests all the way out to the London Aquatics Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for wonderful watery displays, Rixo took over the gardens of the Barbican for a leafy cocktail party and Erdem Moriaglu unveiled his SS22 collection with a spectacular runway show at the British Museum.

“To have the opportunity to share your work with a live audience is a very powerful thing,” he told the Standard. “After two seasons of digital shows, it felt wonderful to return to something live.”

Here are the trends to know:

Rejina Pyo SS22 (Rejina Pyo)
Rejina Pyo SS22 (Rejina Pyo)

Palettes are (still) zinging

There’s been much discussion of post-Covid dopamine dressing and for SS22, palettes only look set to get zingier. At David Koma, mesh dresses, feathers and sequin trouser sets came in neon pinks and yellows inspired by the uniforms of synchronised swimmers; Molly Goddard made supersized versions of her childhood dresses in bold fuchsia and magenta and even Emilia Wickstead, who typically favours more reserved hues, went all-out on punchy pantones. “We focused on a joyful blend of lime, magenta and tangerine shades that feel almost surreal in their vibrancy, but still wearable,” said Wickstead. “There’s something impactful about being confident enough to wear bold colour.”

Emilia Wickstead SS22 (Emilia Wickstead)
Emilia Wickstead SS22 (Emilia Wickstead)

The new erogenous zones

Forget cleavage and booties, next summer’s pulse (racing) points will be the areas that rarely get airtime. Designers like Charlotte Knowles, Supriya Lele, Richard Malone, Nensi Dojaka and Palmer Harding all embraced unexpected flesh-flashing, with cut-out details everywhere from the hip bone to the breast plate. Max Zara Sterck, whose SS22 offering was a 101 in offbeat exposure, said her cut-outs were “a tool to capture the curves all around the body… Empowering the side of the body as much as the front and back”. Go on, flash yer clavicle.

Supriya LeLe (Chris Yates/ Chris Yates Media)
Supriya LeLe (Chris Yates/ Chris Yates Media)

Low-slung jeans

Some might find this one a little hard to hear, but the return of low-rise denim is an inevitability for 2022. Molly Goddard paired baggy hip-slinging skater-style jeans with her signature tulle tops, while belted Nineties flares came paired with crop tops and cowboy hats at Knwls, and this year’s LVMH prize-winner Nensi Dojaka even made the case for a groin-grazing pair of white denim hot pants.

Molly Goddard SS22 (Ben Broomfield @photobenphoto)
Molly Goddard SS22 (Ben Broomfield @photobenphoto)

Return of the LBD

We’ve been wallowing in a quagmire of frumpy floral midis for far too long. But luckily London’s leading lights have put sex firmly back on the menu for SS22 — and chief among the sexiest items in any wardrobe is a good LBD. Cool-girl favourite Nensi Dojaka served plenty of clever iterations on her cult super strappy 90s minis, while Self-Portrait’s digital lookbook, modelled by Bella Hadid, went heavy on the bodycon, with a long-sleeved LBD with cut-out detailing at the décolletage a highlight. “This season I was really inspired to shift gears into the future and present a collection into what women might want to wear after what feels like a lifetime spent indoors,” said founder and creative director Han Chong.

 (Imaxtree)
(Imaxtree)

Humungous hoops

After several years of gold hoop hegemony, it’s high time we all adopted some new ear candy, and if London’s designers have anything to do with it, we’re set to supersize our hoops next year. At Roland Mouret models wore dangling white beaded rounds with shells hanging at the centre, Charlotte Knowles accessorised her Nineties-inflected collection with lime green hoops with a rebellious teenager feel and at Osman, giant braided golden orbs sat among a collection brimming with OTT lobe bling. “I couldn’t find the earrings I wanted, to have the talismanic effect I was after, so I turned necklaces into earrings!” he said.

Osman SS22 (Photo Olivier Claisse)
Osman SS22 (Photo Olivier Claisse)

Net gains

Do the words net and dress conjure images of thong bikini-clad Love Islanders? Think again. London tastemakers Supriya Lele and Rejina Pyo have decreed the net dress a packing-list must for summer 2022. Wear with a bikini to the beach or your best party pants to the disco.

 (Rejina Pyo)
(Rejina Pyo)

Short suits

Few menswear designers decided to show this weekend (most are apparently waiting for the February shows) but among those that did, short suits emerged as a clear contender for next summer’s working wardrobes. At Labrum, Foday Dumbuya delivered bold tie dye-printed short suits created in partnership with the Madam Wokie Skills Development Initiative in Sierra Leone, as part of a collection inspired by the culture and style brought over to Britain by Caribbean and African migrants in the Seventies. At SS Daley’s first solo show, for which he worked with members of the National Youth Theatre to deliver a beautiful school-inspired performance, the London designer offered short suits in supersized paisley jacquard inspired by Eton uniforms, as part of a collection designed “to explore British public school culture, how the intimate bonds of private education dictate structures of power and class”.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
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