It’s been eighteen months since the London fashion crowd stomped the streets in idiosyncratic, head-turning looks, flitting between shows in cultural landmarks across the city, and celebrating the British capital’s spirit of creativity and community. A lot has changed since then. Brands have shuttered, boutiques have closed and our means of communication have shifted. The London Fashion Week schedule has become gender free.

But a warm optimism and anticipation filled the seats at S/S 2022’s shows and presentations, as viewers celebrated the joy of seeing a new clothing collection in real life: the vibrancy of a colour, the texture of a fabric, the drape of a silhouette, by burgeoning brands and behemoths, from 2021 LVMH Prize Winner Nensi Dojaka to Erdem, SS Daley to Roksanda. Here’s eight things to know about the British capital’s return to fashion form and London Fashion Week S/S 2022.

London Fashion Week S/S 2022: all you need to know

LFW : ‘F’ is for friendship

London Fashion Week S/S 2022 Chet Lo
Chet Lo S/S 2022

A sense of community is integral to London’s fashion scene, a unity brought into focus by talent incubator Fashion East, which celebrated its 20th anniversary at London’s The Standard Hotel. For S/S 2022 Goomheo, Maximilian, HRH, Jawara Alleyne and Chet Lo made up the burgeoning talent roster, Asian-American designer Lo making his debut with a series of futuristic 3D-knit designs, inspired by the vibrance of holiday. Elsewhere, Simone Rocha celebrated her brand’s tenth birthday with a party with long-time collaborator Dover Street Market. A stained glass church installation housed a special celebratory collection, featuring archive pieces, and upcycled tableclothes crafted in collaboration with Luncheon magazine.

Matchesfashion celebrated its Innovators initative, a conversational project that sees its latest roster of emerging talent, including Harris Reed, Chopova Lowena and Grace Wales Bonner speak to their creative heroes. At a party at the retailer’s majestic Carlos Place townhouse, guests snacked on cute mini pizzas housed in boxes printed with its signature marbled motif. 

Richard Malone – fresh from a turn as gallery curator – marked his collaboration with Mulberry with a show at the Victoria & Albert Musuem. Models strode against a backdrop of breathtaking Renaissance artworks sporting sculptural spliced designs, from cut-out ruched dresses to patchwork leather coats, made using upcycled Mulberry fabrics. They also carried the designer’s accessory interpretations for Mulberry Editions – bold, graphic takes on the brand’s ‘Bayswater’ and ‘Darley’ bags. 

Another way to absord the community-focused energy at London Fashion Week? The whoops and cheers from the audience as Nensi Dojaka took a bow on the runway at her S/S 2022 finale, or the hug Maximilian Davis’ mother gave him post-show, in view of the smiling guests.

The city still lives in splendour

London Fashion Week S/S 2022 Erdem

After long months of lockdown and social and physical restriction, the British capital is slowly but surely getting its buzz back. Nothing exemplified this more than the diverse locations in which London’s brands chose to stage their shows. In celebration of his eponymous label’s 15-year anniversary, Erdem hosted an intimate runway show outdoors amongst the classical colonnades of the British Museum, framed by a rainbow that appeared at the show’s finale.

Rejina Pyo hot-footed across east London, staging her show at the Zaha Hadid-designed London Aquatics Centre in Stratford, which hosted events during the 2012 Olympics. Simone Rocha showcased her collection at the medieval church St Bartholomew the Great. Roksanda returned to her regular Serpentine Galleries location. And Kiko Kostadinov looked to the rooftop of the Selgas Cano-designed workspace Second Home.

More gritty, Knwls took guests to a dimly lit underground car park behind Oxford Street, while Edward Crutchley shone colourful lasers and smoke across the unfinished concrete interior of Collins’ Music Hall. Saul Nash brought memories of going to school in Hackney to his idiosyncratically performance-focused runway show, with male models sporting hybrid tracksuits and Nikes and getting changed in front of the audience at bus stops.

Skimpy is chic

London Fashion Week S/S 2022 Supriya Lele

Supriya Lele S/S 2022. Photography: Chris Yates Media

Let’s hear it for flaunting the female form. Following on from the glamour and body-sporting chic at New York Fashion Week S/S 2022, a host of brands embraced unabashed body-con silhouettes. Supriya Lele brought a confident, grown-up mood to her colourful, 1990s-centric shapes, with cut-out halterneck dresses in soft leather, daring bodysuits paired with wrap skirts and cropped bomber jackets. Inspired by archetypal silhouettes, she reinterpreted a man’s oversized vest as a sheer sequined net dress, and reimagined a pair of capri pants in sheer mesh that tied at the navel. ‘The collection is about evolution and pushing the brand forward,’ Lele told Wallpaper*. ‘It’s about reaffirming what we are good at.’

Nensi Dojaka, who scooped this year’s LVMH Prize, evolved her signature lingerie-centric LBDs, updating her transparent strappy pieces with pinks and browns and adding knitwear elements and tailoring, such as tuxedo trousers and oversized blazers. Elsewhere, Knwls brought heavy-metal biker-girl glam to its sexy skin-tight silhouettes, with bleached denim, cracked leather, sand-splashed hues and cowboy hats.

Menswear is in the mix

London Fashion Week S/S 2022 Molly Goddard menswear
Molly Goddard S/S 2022. Photography: Ben Broomfield

S/S 2022 saw the men’s and women’s catwalk schedule physically merge. Cue Saul Nash’s school-inspired sportswear take, complete with Nikes, Kickers and tracksuits printed with the Hackey-born designer’s TFL travel pass; plus Molly Goddard’s menswear evolution, which saw silhouettes inspired by children’s clothes, and models sporting heart-motif intarsia knits, thigh-revealing shorts and ballet pumps. Upcycling wunderkind SS Daley’s debut catwalk show featured whimsical, upcycled silhouettes, from paisley suits to rugby shirts, voluminous trousers to dressing gowns, while Stefan Cooke looked to classic wardrobe pieces, like tracksuit bottoms, polo shirts, vests and bomber jackets, reintrepreting them with trompe l’oeil effects, light-hearted dancing-women motifs, cable-knit appliqué and chainmail.

Set your sights on far horizons

London Fashion Week S/S 2022 Kiko Kostadinov runway
Kiko Kostadinov S/S 2022

Unsurprisingly, a host of designers set their sights on escapist scenes. At Fashion East, Maximilian looked with a nostalgic nod to the sun-soaked colours and vibrancy of life on the islands of the Caribbean Sea, inspired by memories of family visits to Trinidad, presenting ocean tones, reds inspired by the island’s scarlet ibis bird, and outfits riffing on carnival attendees.

Chet Lo’s innovative knitwear also looked to sun-drenched sojourns, the tones of tropical cocktails and the outlines of pool inflatables.

Laura and Deanna Fanning looked to the streets around north London that they walked during lockdown for Kiko Kostadinov’s A/W 2021 collection; but for S/S 2022 they looked to the sunny shores of their native Australia, where they have not returned since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Looking to beach literature by Kathy Lett and Tim Winton, the brand’s collection referenced surf, salt-baked tones from sand to oceanic blues, the undulating shapes of waves, and the relaxed ease of beach living. Wrap skirts were embellished with shells, blouses had flowing handkerchief shapes, and ribbed knits were imagined as upside down cardigans. ‘For many Australians, the coast is such an ordinary aspect of growing up that can be a fetishised and commercialised norm. In saying that, there are so many beautiful parts of the coast that really give you a sense of perspective, relief and a moment to reflect in its calmness and sparsity. Not being able to return home, we really felt a sense of longing for the calmness and balance that coastal trips and moments provide for us,’ the sisters told Wallpaper*.

The show must (not) go on

London Fashion Week S/S 2022 Nensi Dojaka
Margaret Howell S/S 2022. Photography: Mark Kearn. Styling: Beat Bolliger

Not all brands were back on the official schedule, with notable exceptions from September’s London Fashion Week being Burberry, Christopher Kane and Chalayan. Margaret Howell skipped a physical show in favour of a film and a small collection of accompanying appointments – the perfect way for the brand to allow editors to touch the tactile, time-honed fabrications and attention to cut and comfort that the label spends hours deliberating over. Chalky, paint-like textures were central to the men’s and women’s collection, which featured pastel-hued simple striped dresses, Mackintosh-designed boxy cagoules, casual unlined tailoring and schoolish-inspired styling. ‘Each season, there’s a lot of tweaks that go on,’ Howell told Wallpaper* of silhouettes that nodded to heritage styles in the brand’s extensive archive.

Prince of partywear Halpern also eschewed a physical show, in favour of a digital film created in collaboration with The Royal Ballet. At the Royal Opera House, dancers twirled in fluid silk gowns and dresses drenched in colourful fringing. JW Anderson also skipped an IRL show, debuting instead a collection film and in-store activations at the brand’s 6a-designed Soho boutique. 

London Fashion Week S/S 2022 Nensi Dojaka
Christopher Kane S/S 2022

Christopher Kane and Burberry chose to hold their runway shows through livestream in October, parallel to Paris Fashion Week. The former, presented an offering that meditated between minimalism and more tongue in cheek silhouettes, featuring dresses in fluid metallic pleats or with architectural volumes, satin coats with 3D folds, chainmail tops and jumpers and shirts embellished with the figurative characters that Kane dreamt up during lockdown.

The world is a stage (and a swimming pool)

London Fashion Week S/S 2022 Roksanda

Roksanda S/S 2022

Theatricality was high on the agenda for a host of immersive, performance-focused shows. At London Aquatics Centre in Stratford, Rejina Pyo showed a colourful print-splashed collection, featuring Canadian tuxedos, puritan-collar dresses, ruched skirts and oversized tailoring. At the show’s finale, models ascended the space’s diving boards and were joined by members of the GB diving team, who wore bold swimming costumes and performed breathtaking dives into the swimming pool below.

Roksanda returned to her favourite Serpentine Pavilion venue – designed for 2021 by South African architecture practice Counterspace, using Portuguese cork and bricks made of construction waste – with a show-cum-performance, created in collaboration with choreographer Holly Blakey. Dancers ascended seating, crawled across the floor and clambered onto each others shoulders in a performance inspired by layered human emotion and tension, wearing the designer’s colourful, motion-fuelled pieces, like bell sleeve gowns, fringed dresses and slouchy suiting.

Menswear designer Steven Stokey-Daley – whose star began to ascend after his whimsical, upcycled designs were sported by Harry Styles – enlisted members of the National Youth Theatre for his brand SS Daley’s debut catwalk show, with a performance that riffed on notions of masculinity, stereotypes of public and private school, power structure and class. The designer developed these fascinations when studying at the University of Westminster, which has a campus overlooking Harrow School’s rubgy fields. Meanwhile, Charles Jeffrey returned to dramatic form, staging ‘Portal’ at the gritty Metalworks in Islington, with models striding amongst laser beams and sporting century-spanning garments, headpieces ablaze with burning candles.

Mum’s the word

London Fashion Week S/S 2022 Simone Rocha

Simone Rocha recently gave birth to her second daughter, and for S/S 2022 she had motherhood on her mind. The designer referenced  ‘Sleep walking, mothering’,  ‘Communion dress’, ‘Baby teeth & lack of sleep’ in her collection notes, which featured voluminous cotton nightgowns edged with brocade and broderie anglaise, girlish ballet shoes, ethereal layered petticoats, ribbon detail cardigans and beaded crowns. Spring spoke of vulnerability and strength.

Elsewhere, Molly Goddard – who is on maternity leave after giving birth to her first son – subtly alluded to her new role as a mother, looking at the baby and kids’ clothes she has collected over time, and blowing up silhouettes such as smock dresses to grown-up proportions. §