Ryan Lo spun a love story for Spring 2019. His show notes described his muse as “flurrying about in occasionwear, waiting for a White Knight Prince to charge his way into her heart.” From dates to cocktail parties, gallery openings and summer soirees, she’s in the mood for love.
Lo has grown considerably as a designer over the years. He broke onto the scene with a fanciful display of sugary sweet frocks. He presented an unabashed ode to girlishness, at a time when it was still considered a bit naff. Nowadays, in the wake of Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard, and Clio Peppiatt, the aesthetic is resurgent. There’s no fear in sporting shades of pink or swathes of tulle. In fact, there’s enough of that to go around judging by the London Fashion Week schedule in recent years.
But once Lo commemorated his five year anniversary with a greatest-hits-of-sorts collection, he renewed the cycle with a more demure outlook on saccharinity. He’s growing with his audience. These days, there’s something for women of all ages to connect with. Princess dresses still exist for those ardent supporters from the beginning of his career but for those who shoot left of that style remit have options to choose from. This season, he propositioned them with age-directed hemlines and overcoats. It was respectful and diverse—it would be exciting to see some older faces in the casting next season. He’s got the chutzpah to pull it off.
(It’s a missed opportunity that Topshop hasn’t recruited him for a collaboration—his brand of saccharine femininity would go down a treat with today’s Instagram generation.)
The most memorable moment from this show — aside from Stephen Jones’ wonderfully witchy hats inspired by the Hayao Miyazaki film Kiki’s Delivery Service and the tongue-in-cheek broomsticks — was the finale. Romance isn’t dead, declared Lo. The bride emerged, flanked by her knight in shining armour. One can’t fault Lo for his devotion to women—he admires them and surrounds himself with them. His business is built on the back of their enjoyment. However, one couldn’t help but wonder whether the silver-clad knight was out of touch with the times. We lived (the show took place in September 2018) in a year in which we championed female empowerment—how does this fit into that? But maybe, one could argue, we’re too much of an uptight, hypersensitive generation and it’s okay to want to be saved by a lover. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder.