LONDON — The city’s household names were mostly absent from this season’s calendar but, despite that, buyers still paid attention to the city’s designers, and especially young names such as LVMH Prize winner Nensi Dojaka, Knwls and Fashion East designers Maximilian and Chet Lo.
This new generation is pushing a new kind of sexy to the market, with sheer dresses and separates, bodycon silhouettes and cutouts galore. And retailers are standing firmly behind the look, as risqué as it might seem. They’re looking to serve a young, digitally savvy audience that’s keen to show off and make loud statements after many months in lockdown.
Buyers also gave a collective thumbs up to the hybrid presentation formats that British designers chose.
While many creatives were excited to return to physical events — Rejina Pyo’s show, opened by Olympic divers at the London Aquatic Center, was a firm favorite — the more intimate presentation formats were also popular.
Michael Halpern, who hosted one-on-one appointments and presented a film featuring Royal Ballet dancers, won praise for his ability to adapt to the times, and communicate a wider message with his feel-good evening wear.
Here, international buyers share some of their favorite moments from London’s spring 2022 season.
Ida Petersson, buying director, Browns:
BEST COLLECTIONS: Nensi Dojaka, Saul Nash, Knwls, Simone Rocha, Richard Quinn and Maximilian were my “pinch me” moments this week. We have truly been spoilt with talent this season here in London.
TREND-SPOTTING: Off the back of New York Fashion Week and now that London is coming to a close, it is evident that sexy is firmly back.
BUDGETS UP OR DOWN?: Budgets are up. Our homegrown talent has worked hard during these past unsettling 18 months, however they took it in their stride, overcame challenges and the creativity and energy was clear to see in all their collections.
BEST SHOW FORMAT: Rejina Pyo’s show at the London Aquatics Centre was stunning and theatrical.
IMPRESSIONS OF THE WEEK: The energy was so tangible throughout the week. We wrapped up feeling both hopeful and excited for the season ahead.
Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director, Mytheresa:
BEST COLLECTIONS: Simone Rocha, Erdem, Victoria Beckham and David Koma really stood out.
TREND-SPOTTING: We saw a very strong early-2000s influence. Overall it is a very sexy and body-conscious look.
NEW TALENT: Chet Lo from Fashion East is definitely one to keep an eye on.
IMPRESSIONS OF THE WEEK: The mood is very playful and positive — a celebration of getting together which is so wonderful to see and experience. But it does take some time to get used to it and to renavigate.
Marissa Galante Frank, fashion director for accessories and beauty, Bloomingdale’s:
BEST COLLECTIONS: London Fashion Week delivered standout collections and top of mind is Rejina Pyo. There was a vibrancy and ease behind the spring collection as seen through her use of color and crochet. Erdem’s powerful femininity and polish and Richard Malone’s fresh reinterpretation of Mulberry’s iconic designs were also highlights.
TREND-SPOTTING: “Retro resort” and bright, bold colors are two trends that crossed over into London Fashion Week and we’ll see reflected in Bloomingdale’s assortment next year.
BEST SHOW FORMAT: I loved what Rejina Pyo did at the London Aquatics Centre. It was a beautiful show and having the divers showcase her new swimwear firsthand during their dives was creative and instantly grabbed your attention.
IMPRESSIONS OF THE WEEK: There’s something quite special about London Fashion Week. It’s beautiful to see designers lean into their heritage and reinterpret it in fresh ways, while also seeing the next wave of emerging designers demonstrate their talent and voice.
Libby Page, senior market editor, Net-a-porter:
BEST COLLECTIONS: Roksanda, Halpern and Rejina Pyo refreshed their optimistic approach with bold colors and prints. Nensi Dojaka, Maximilian Davis and Supriya Lele also brought back London to its core mission: showcasing emerging designers.
TREND-SPOTTING: The joy of dressing was embraced throughout, with eclectic colors seen at Roksanda, Halpern, David Koma, Rejina Pyo. And Nensi Dojaka, Supriya Lele and Maximilian Davis all brought sexy back in their own individual way.
BEST SHOW FORMAT: Halpern produced a wonderful film set within the Royal Opera House. It was a continuation of his previous collection which he showcased on frontline workers who served throughout the pandemic. It was incredibly emotive and showcased his grandeur perfectly. As for physical shows, we loved how Rejina Pyo took “freedom” to a whole new level at the London Aquatics Centre. And for the third time, Roksanda put on a true performance at the Serpentine Pavilion, embracing dance, color and joy. It was the perfect Monday morning pick-me-up.
NEW TALENT: LVMH prize winner, Nensi Dojaka, caught our eye with her delicate little black dresses, plunging shapes, tapered trousers and tied details — a collection designed for the modern-day, powerful woman.
IMPRESSIONS OF THE WEEK: Designers old and new have considerably ramped up their game with the traditional runway show. Locations and concepts were more spectacular than ever. One of the best things about London Fashion Week this season has been the joy radiating around the shows as we all physically reunite to enjoy the brands we love together.
Lisa Aiken, fashion and lifestyle director, Neiman Marcus:
BEST COLLECTIONS: The biggest highlights of the week came from established LFW fixtures Erdem and Simone Rocha, both of whom quietly evolved their brand DNA with new ideas that will appeal to both a new and existing client. Emilia Wickstead and Halpern weren’t on the schedule but held private appointments, and were accompanied by beautifully creative films. Rejina Pyo’s colorful collection was bold and optimistic — everything we are looking forward to next summer.
TREND-SPOTTING: Whether it was on the runway or on the streets, there is a lot of strong, saturated color. There is a lot of volume either in more classic fit-and-flare shapes, or trapeze silhouettes and dramatic sleeves. At the other end of the spectrum, the ‘return to sexiness’ continues with cutouts, barely there tops and backless options.
BUDGETS UP OR DOWN? We are always seeking opportunities to invest in newness and bring excitement to our incredibly loyal and engaged customer base.
BEST SHOW FORMAT: The outdoor Erdem show at the British Museum was a standout and I love some of the more intimate presentation formats with the opportunity to walk through the collection in person.
NEW TALENT: I am very excited about Nensi Dojaka and Maximilian and look forward to seeing their collections in the showrooms.
IMPRESSIONS OF THE WEEK: It was a buzzy week of emerging talent, with a few of the bigger LFW names missing from the schedule. But ultimately that is what London is known for.
Elizabeth von der Goltz, chief commercial officer, Matchesfashion:
BEST COLLECTIONS: Emilia Wickstead and S.S. Daley
TREND-SPOTTING: Romantic themes throughout felt strong and modern with great new floral prints. After the last 18 months I believe comfort will still be key when it comes to dressing up. In terms of color, bright and fun pastel hues took center stage — a few highlights being Roksanda, Emilia Wickstead and Rejina Pyo. The empowering, sexier pieces from the likes of Nensi Dojaka and Maximilian were very strong, too.
BEST SHOW FORMAT: S.S. Daley’s showcase with the National Youth Theatre about tensions of class, masculinity, race, sexuality, same-sex love and bullying at British Public Schools was truly inspiring and Rejina Pyo’s uplifting show with the British Olympic team divers at London Aquatics Centre was another highlight.
NEW TALENT: It was great to see our new Innovator designers Nensi Dojaka, Maximilian and S.S.Daley.
IMPRESSION OF THE WEEK: It was so inspiring to see the creativity from the designers when it came to their presentations and shows, with so many showcasing their collections in such interesting and exciting formats.