The original party decade, where art, fashion, interior design and music truly came to be under the umbrella of Art Deco, the prevailing aesthetic of the 1920s immediately conjures thoughts of Auntie Mame’s thin cigarette holder, sandwiched between a pair of plush, bejewelled fingers, or the mounds and mounds of champagne lurking in the basement of Jay Gatsby’s opulent, shore-side abode. The decade of Josephine Baker and jazz, Coco Chanel and Babe Ruth, of lavish parties and shimmering hedonism.
100 years later, the fashion world is revisting this era of artistic innovation, indulgence, glamour and exuberance with fresh energy. A time of great renewel, rethinking – and drinking – following the devestation of the Spanish Flu and WWI the 20s epitomised a new sense of freedom where dressing up and letting loose was the modus operandi. Let’s be honest, the similarities with modern day aren’t difficult to identify, so perhaps a roaring twenties revival is exactly what the world needs right now.
This FW22 season more than ever, Art Deco was 2022’d on runways across London, Milan and Paris, manifested through maximalist shapes, rich fabrications and geometrics. Whether it’s Bruno Sialelli’s plush, tessellating patterns at Lanvin, or Yoon Ahn’s reworked flapper fancies at Ambush, it’s clear this season was all about getting our glitz on – scroll down for a deep-dive trend takeaway.
Hollywood glamour is all a beautiful illusion. But Lanvin’s FW22 show wasn’t exactly a critique of this system, instead, it paid homage to it as the first form of augmented reality, one of the world’s earliest and most entrancing means of escaping the mortal coil. Think of Film Noir, with its dark echoes and shadow-play, made far bolder in monochromatic suiting that cherished narrow arms and knife-sharp lapels, or soft dresses whose sloping shoulders and deep cut bodices made rigour and sophistication all the more tangible. Repeat prints offer a sense of kitsch, of tessellated Art Deco interiors brought to life in sheeny trousers or rugged knitwear that borrowed from entrancing Ancient Egyptian art. Increasing tactility meant suits grew lavish in mustard velvet, and dresses were opaque aside from side panels of pleated peach and intricate, contrast crystal beading. Scene-stealing is back, ladies and gentlemen, just let Lanvin show us how it’s done.
Opulence has always been synonymous with the storied house of Saint Laurent, and indeed the style of Nancy Cunard, a leading feminist and anti-fascist literary voice from the early 20th century. For FW22, Cunard’s exaggeratedly masculine-feminine wardrobe provided a springboard for the imagination of Anthony Vaccarello, from which the house of Saint Laurent dove off headfirst into effortless bias-cuts and flowing silks. The designer’s rich, faux furs were the stars of such an effort, covering naked chests in sharp crops, ballooning up through puffy trims and big shoulders. Some needn’t even cloak the body – held outstretched into the night sky like present bags meeting the birthday girl – while others totally cocooned it in voluminous, floor-length fashion. Mesh evening gowns took the latter approach, elevated with a slew of chunky, geometric bangles in Cunard’s visage, emphasising each line and curve of the body with dramatic finesse.
The spirit of Art Deco was alive and kicking at Giorgio Armani this season in an assortment of abstract prints and wild, geometric patterns. In the label’s latest co-ed offering, dresses were longer than long, falling down in structured columns with carefully wrapped waists. Skirts were detached from soft, pleated shawls, glistening in dark fabrics and enticing embroidery that floated down from stretch-waists, and at other times, was spliced and segmented into sections of deliciously chaotic fringing. Velvet crept up pointed boots and sensible jackets, pairing off with strings of dark beads woven into criss-cross bodices, switching immediately into vivid, swirling patterns that grew wilder and wilder as the proceedings went on – the sheer beauty unrelenting.
Yoon Ahn’s AMBUSH first made a name for itself in the streetwear realm, giving casual clobber a high-tech makeover in tracksuits and sport-centric outerwear. This season, however, Ahn’s ditched the space-age shell-suiting in favour of a far more romantic past. Flapper like fringing is back in heavy, wooden beads, swooshing off the sides of lengthy dresses and belly-bearing mini’s as coats bring an air of windswept glamour with billowing capes spliced straight down the middle. These staples play out alongside cow-printed chaps and cropped moto-jackets in a time-travelling expedition of truly great style.
A different kind of night out was on the cards at Sadler’s Theatre with Erdem’s 1930s hedonists. These partygoers let loose in dark trenchcoats and vintage-look organza, both decorated with vast, glistening floral forms. Their headwraps were formed from grand, glistening sequins, hanging down in extended strands over patchwork lace dresses, while ornate beaded formations were formed from sun rays and starry skies. Gloves were elbow-length, flanked by voluminous silver studs that paired off with angular shirts and lengthy fringed skirting. But let us truly fantasise over the designer’s lengthy slip-dresses, adorned with black crystals, spliced open at the shoulder or giving over to curling, pleated trims, for these are the real stars of the show.