S.S. Daley RTW Spring 2023
Keeping his promise to offer “more of an experience than just a catwalk” for his spring show, British menswear designer Steven Stokey-Daley laid out a garden set, conscripted actors to read the fraught love letters between Vita Sackville-West and Violet Keppel, and drew bunny whiskers on models’ faces, some of whom also toted weathered pitchforks or wicker baskets of farm-fresh eggs.
The 2022 winner of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers could not have anticipated the death of Queen Elizabeth II roughly a week before his show, but that compelled him to add a funereal segment at the outset, his young mourners dressed in white shirts with outsized collars and big black pants, each holding a lit candle.
While the designer hinted at conflicted views about the monarchy backstage – his upstart label views the British class system through a queer lens – he allowed “she meant so much to people.”
The show’s narrative hinged on “that theme of forbidden love,” including the lore about Sackville-West dressing as a man during their clandestine rendezvous with Keppel in France so they could pass as a couple.
Male and female models of various sizes strolled out in big, wide-wale corduroy pants and crisp camp shirts, among clothing archetypes that work across gender.
And while the relationship between Sackville-West and Keppel sadly ended, Stokey-Daley turned out mostly cheerful and summery fare: balloon-sleeve blouses; linen suits edged in white stitching; calico shirts fronted with vintage seed packages, and big trench coats trailing ribbons, or printed with a rabbit.
The clothes weren’t always flattering, but had a unique charm, and rich back story. Stokey-Daley noted that he cranked up his use of deadstock materials, including vintage commemorative tea towels. One eagle-eyed editor spotted one from 1977, the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II. “My nan used to have one in her kitchen and she used to cross off the calendar with a biro ” he related.