London Fashion Week: Best in Show for AW22

As the industry steps back onto the physical runway, the best of London Fashion Week’s designers dazzled with ingenuity. A sure-footed celebration of community, connection and talent.

With some major names not on the schedule, it might be assumed that London Fashion Week would lose its sparkle. Instead, emerging designers made an impressive impact across the city. Priya Alhuwalia and Connor Ives made their entry with debut catwalk collections, while 16Arlington honoured its late co-founder Frederica Cavenati. LVMH Prize nominee S.S. Daley explored sexuality and previous winner Nensi Dojaka celebrated body diversity.

Here’s our summary of the most interesting shows for Autumn/Winter 2022.

Conner Ives

Conner Ives made a brilliant debut on the schedule with a confetti cannon of Americana glam. His first physical show, hotly anticipated, was ablaze with celebratory verve. It crashed the Hollywood party girl trope with bling-spangled glitterball dresses, macramé tassels that poured down the leg like spilled champagne and tastefully tacky logo prints. The native New Yorker had graduated Central Saint Martins while the pandemic raged on – and now it was time to shine, groove and act debauched. titled Hudson River High, the collection lauded pop-cultural iconography and electric Y2K sleaze, headed by a trail of rainbow butterfly clips and slinky baby tees. Its fictitious roll call of characters played host to garish internet stereotypes and trash television alike. Out came the quirky cowgirls, Motown mamas, knock-off contestants from America’s Next Top Model and Jackie Kennedy in a sweeping A-line number.The Devil Wears Prada’s Andy made a bootleg appearance, no less.

On|Off presents Jack Irving

The ominous inflatable octo-tendrils at Jack Irving were somewhere between devilish deep-sea mutation, alien fetish nightmare and Slenderman subject to steroids. Perhaps, even, a parasitic critique on the pandemic. Either way the latex appendages, which swelled like bacteria, were a sight to marvel at and a credit to the designer’s background in costume design. Hailing from Blackpool, Irving infuses molecular theatricality with engineering to stir fashion’s functional core – you’ll find no ready-to-wear here. This performance saw models act out spike-shedding rituals, resulting in visual spectacles that were simultaneously viral in structure and social media presence. Urchin-esque limbs teetered above chromatic breastplates in a kind of ghoulish cabaret, with metre-wide balloons that might just consume their wearer in an unfortunate breeze.

Matty Bovan

Bovan’s back – and with souvenirs to show for it. Having spent last summer across the Atlantic with his partner, the Yorkshire-born designer uprooted any patriotic proclivity he held in favour of punked-up stateside memorabilia. Shredded and reconstrued varsity jackets star in the collection, with diced American football vests playing ball with dog-eared knit shawls. Re-cobbled Converse footwear was mixed with denim capes; then came windbreaker skirts runway – styling that very much speaks to a muddled, jumble-sale jollity. This is no deviation from Bovan’s usual cut-and-paste craft. Working from a home studio in past seasons, the designer concoct s the absurd from technicolour offcuts and his mother’s handmade jewellery. For this iteration, aptly named Cyclone, he drew on the whirring chaos caused by Covid-19, hence clothing that looks haphazardly clashed together, a curated wreckage.

S.S. Daley

Stately houses set the scene for Steven Stokey Daley’s menswear story, which navigated closeted sexuality through topsy-turvy, opulent interiors. Performers drafted in from London dance schools placed a queer slant on setting; some entwined playfully on a four-poster bed, other couples canoodled on the chaise longue. It embodied all the Old Money affluence of Downton Abbey under a new love-is-love impulse, decorated smartly by chequered suiting and silken pyjama coats. A front-running semi-finalist for the LVMH Prize, Daley is once again decodifying the world, not only through gender with a unisex cast, but also the English class divide, softening its rigid walls through ballet. Each look is tethered to humble tales from the streets; a cable knit jacquard reading “You and I are Earth” came from phrases etched on a plate in the London sewers. Elsewhere, modish waistcoats resurrect the hushed desires of dandyism and 17th-century shirts billowed teasingly atop loose trousers.

Nensi Dojaka

Nensi Dojaka won the LVMH Prize last year and has lingered in the limelight ever since for her contributions to svelte, lingerie-like dress. Full of spaghetti straps and sex appeal, the designer extended her net on body inclusivity, working her wisdom around wider hips and curvier busts – and, in so doing, broadening her appeal. Besides romantic, sheer ruchings that swaddled the stomach of a pregnant Maggie Maurer, the collection dialled up texture to embrace lustrous leathers and sequined panelling. Dojaka’s subtle take on lust intensifies body confidence for any and every woman, be that through bare-all bralettes or the slick cut of a blazer. Awash with earthy hues, this season featured bulkier shapes – a cropped puffer, voyeuristic leggings and erogenous and cut-out midi dresses.


Traversing a cultural confluence between Bollywood and Nollywood movies, Priya Alhuwahlia, like the rest of us, spent her lockdown soaking up films. After releasing five fashion films, cinema magic bled into her debut IRL show; a sumptuous, well-read tour of global tailoring, its artisan techniques all coloured in ochres and oranges like a fiery Saharan sunset. There were rich textures in the corkscrewed denims, the wispy satins, a patchwork collection that saw pinstripe twinsets and saris imitate mottled set designs and handpainted motifs lifted from poster ads. But there was also a deeper, visceral texture in the narrative. From her career summit, the fledgling designer waved a welcome flag for Nigerian and Indian traditions in honour of her mixed heritage. Earning myriad accolades, she’s most recently becoming a finalist for the Woolmark Prize.

Richard Quinn

Who let the dogs out? Richard Quinn unleashed his lurid latex gimps from a pink boudoir once more, slinking and squeaking at every step with a peverse eroticism. A human bondage pup was walked onto the runway by drag queen Violet Chachki, much to the pleasure of viral rubberneckers on TikTok. Gyrating below a grand candelabra to sways of a symphony orchestra, models in XXL vinyl lampshade hats, punchy florals and pumped-up princess gowns yanked over the head brought pride back to Britain, post-Omicron. This bevy of demi-couture was steeped in seductive, optimistic thrill: its caftans and swollen crinolines yearned to be ogled, not locked away in confinement. It was familiar in many ways, but repetition seems a sensible move when his flowery signatures have just been nominated for the BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund this year.

Central Saint Martins

School is a mixed clique for most. Within the illustrious Central Saint Martins, there are no Hulk-armed jocks, no geek clichés, but a whole carnival bonanza of art kids that provoke fashion’s playsafe ways. This year, they graduated with flying colours, notably Ed Mendoza who co-won the L’Oreal Professionel award with Jessan Macatangay for his plus-sized, Afro-Latinx garmentry in all shades of the rainbow. Among the 32 MA fashion designers showing, highlights included: Liza Keane, who sculpted her feminist vision from beastly anatomy, and Kazner Asker, who debuted hijabs in a notable first for the course. From Thomas Newbury’s boa-slinging glamazons to James Walsh’s flocked egg helmet, this was an event full of fun and intimations of the future of fashion.


“This one’s for you, Kiks,” read notes on the seats at 16Arlington. Co-founder Frederica ‘Kikki’ Cavenati passed away suddenly towards the end of last year. Upon her death, the Tears collection was completed by Marco Capaldo, the designer’s beloved best friend and business partner. The departure birthed a soul-capturing tribute with angelic white suiting that swept the floor, marabou necklines paired next to furry marshmallow hats and heaven-high clogs. Capaldo cultivated textiles from grief – recreating the accidental puddle-marks his tears left on the work desk into patterns imbued with Kikki’s vivacious flair. The show must go on, it said. As the final sequins shuffled into darkness, the audience rose in a deserved ovation.

Yuhan Wang

Yuhan Wang’s collection was dubbed Venus in Furs, from a book of the same title. The designer wanted to challenge perceptions as to what makes a goddess. How is divine perfection portrayed? Wang’s answer came in the form of cobweb latticework and soft tactility; lace stockings, emerald satins, tassel fringing that poured from asymmetric houndstooth hems like a waterfall. They washed away an old femininity for a new vision full of sophistication. Shell adornments, made from corn plastic, decorated models’ ears and necks, and the designer wove knits into her work for the first time, each jumper emblazoned with a cat jacquard to hammer home the message: “Sometimes we can be very cute, sometimes we can bite.” Meow!

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