In an unexpected yet welcomed twist, the Spring/Summer 24 showcase at London’s Fashion Week featured more than just florals venturing towards unforeseen fashion directions. Unlike most luxury brands, a high level of innovation and creativity was brought in by New Gen designers: from the cosmos-inspired garments and futuristic eyewear by KWK to the clever union between childhood playfulness and virtual reality of Jenn Lee’s presentation.
If you’re more of a motifs and patterns fanatic, MITHRIDATE and MARRKNULL got that for days — years even. A mixture of sustainability and purposeful fashion is the driving force for the latter which opted for a more contemporary approach that feels — and looks — avant-garde. Between suggestive graphics, modernised traditions and throwback trends, the runway transformed into a mirror reflecting a future in which freedom of expression starts with what we wear. Schön! listed below is a full breakdown of the highlights from all the exciting New Gen presentations and collections.
KWK by Kay Kwok plunged the audience into a sci-fi, intergalactic world characterised by a collection of dystopian metal armour and innovative athleisure. Kwok described the showcase as ‘a journey out of the dark to arrive into the abundance and joy of the light’ which translated to the first looks being darker tones and shades with sculptural constructions looping around the models. In a combination of spirituality and digitalisation, Buddhist iconography depicting the beauty of nature with graphics inspired by the cosmos created an array of vivid colours and prints that left viewers yearning for more. The last time we saw KWK’s iconic metal arms was on Beyonce herself during her Renaissance Tour, but now they made a glorious comeback in various Buddhist mudras (hand gestures) as shoulder embellishments to pastel sheer garments. Complementing the ethereal vision, accessories like thigh-high boots, tote bags, and exposed undergarments provided a grounded, streetwear-infused perspective. Among the standout ensembles were harmonious two-piece sets featuring athletic stripes along the sides.
MARRKNULL unveiled their SS24 collection as a bold declaration of freedom from the confines and detachment of the workplace. Titled ‘Get Off Work’, the collection showcased an exhilarating fusion of streetwear, featuring leather separates, handkerchief prints, and, most notably, denim. This once utilitarian fabric underwent a metamorphosis, morphing from overcoats to asymmetrical minidresses and cropped bustier tops, all in a palette of blues, washed blacks, and formal greys. A standout element was the denim separates linked by a sort of denim barbed-wire structure, encircling the models in a mesmerising display.
Adding a touch of formality, the collection introduced cutout suiting paired with oversized trousers and striking shoulder pads. As is customary with most collections, accessories played a pivotal role in unifying the looks. Denim and leather handbags with hanger-like handles became a standout feature, underlining the notion of post-work comfort. The footwear, created in collaboration with the esteemed Chinese brand DAPHNE.LAB, pushed boundaries with deconstructed boots, pointed stilettos, and sturdy loafers, further enhancing the collection’s innovative spirit.
Following the triumph of his previous collections, Asian-American designer Chet Lo made a triumphant return to London’s Fashion Week, unveiling a collection for the SS24 season that exuded a palpable sensuality. Renowned for his spiked and vibrant knits, which have recently gained a devoted following among Gen Z fashion enthusiasts, Lo embarked on an introspective journey delving into the often overlooked realm of sexual identity within Asian cultures.
Transforming the Old Selfridges Hotel into a swirling sea of red lights, the alluring collection pays homage to the designer’s Chinese heritage, featuring satin separates, leather coordinates, and knits adorned with ancient Chinese erotic art and Japanese shunga, a traditional art form known for its depictions of same-sex couples. Lo’s iconic knitwear, while taking on a more subdued palette, made its mark across slim-fit tops, sheer long-sleeves, cut-out skirts, and halter-neck dresses. The final act unveiled three-dimensional silhouettes, showcasing an array of crewnecks and hoodies. Playing a pivotal role in evoking the collection’s erotic ambience, intricately knotted Japanese Shibari ropes, commonly associated with sensual rope play, entwined around necks and arms, harmoniously paired with braided snake-like hair adornments. Accents of electric blues, striking reds, soft greens, and crisp whites complemented each piece, elevating the recurring graphics to new heights.
Setting herself apart from fellow designers, Jenn Lee took a distinctive approach to the Spring/Summer season, predominantly delving into the digital realm — a choice that truly distinguished her presentation. Technology took centre stage, with screens enveloping the set, each displaying the intricate process of crafting custom digital ensembles. Drawing inspiration from the boundless joy of her young son, Lee harnessed the essence of childhood innocence to convey the message that we hold the power to shape our own utopia.
Amidst the iconic red and black palette, the collection exuded the unrestrained spirit of a 90s art studio, adorned with motifs reminiscent of youthful exuberance. Each piece conveyed a grunge aesthetic, borderline punk, with dynamic chromatic clashes — from vibrant overlays of bright yellow and deep reds to understated neutral tones — amplified by bold line strokes adorning most garments. With shoes by UNDERGROUND, among the striking ensembles were juxtaposed separates, asymmetrical skirts, and branded jackets, where the designer’s introduced natural dyeing techniques shone through, particularly evident in the layered black and white dress. Echoes of the digital realm manifested in the form of wide-rimmed translucent glasses, harmoniously complemented by fishnet accents, chunky lace boots, and chokers, creating a cohesive fusion of elements.
MITHRIDATE‘s latest collection was a graceful tribute to East Asian culture, while also establishing a firm foundation for innovation and sustainability at a premium level of quality. Set against the serene backdrop of St. Cyprian’s Church courtyard, the garments radiated over the grass, accompanied by a melodic clinking of jewellery that resonated throughout the space. Exquisite oriental-inspired designs paraded in a procession of luminous hues, from gentle jade to calming cyan, vibrant yellow, and earthy pink. Airy layered dresses and tunics adorned with gold accents showcased intricate floral patterns and embroidery, prominently featuring MITHRIDATE’s distinctive moth motif in various dimensions.
Transparent white lace coordinates and separates, featuring geometric floral cutouts, created a stunning contrast against earth-toned, paint-splattered dresses and hand-dyed bodysuits. Embracing the signature maximalist style, oversized embroidered coats and gowns took the spotlight, boasting voluminous pastel tulle trains and bursts of feathers. In a striking departure from the first half of the collection, washed and bleached denim ensembles provided a contemporary and streetwear-inspired finale. These looks were elegantly tied together with beaded pastel handbags and delicate jade accessories. The collection’s emphasis on sustainability and remedial practices was underscored by the use of organic silk, cotton, and linen in all materials and fabrics, aligning perfectly with the theme of exploring the healing properties of Chinese medicinal herbs.
words. Gennaro Costanzo