Patrick Michael Hughes Senior Fashion Editor - Men's Fashion Writer
Photographs by Alessandro Lucioni
LONDON: America and American themes seem to be having a moment at London Fashion Week's Fall/Winter 2022 -2023. The themes have been western mythology with cactus and cowboy hats to Hollywood's pre-code, depression era film. Glittering characters waking form a deep sleep and entering a mad, over the top party thrown be Cecil B. De Mille. British designers and labels are mining and finding inspiration for the forthcoming season in America. Matty Bovan stunning draped, wrapped, spliced and richly textured body for fall was one of the season's highlights in this genre.
Connecticut is one of the original thirteen American Colonies in New England. It's a star and a stripe on the United States flag, interestingly this Yankee state was also the Fall-Winter 2022/2023 season's key influence for Yorkshire designer Matty Bovan's latest runway collection.
Bovan's take was far form the modern, diverse preppy of Yale University or the host of top tier boarding schools. It was rather a comment on the globalized symbols of patriotism using American iconography as a the impetus. In his personal life Bovan who has been splitting his time between the UK and Bridgewater, Connecticut in his American boyfriend's hometown. They have spent time researching lost and unrecognized forms of American folkloric music. This is the designer's first American themed collection.
The glorious chaos of Matty Bovan's trademark style is often connected to fashion history form revolution to romantic optimism. The styles manifest in structured silhouettes and unmistakable volume. This consistency was true for F/W 2022-2023. The American message was clearly articulated in the the shapes of the outwear which drew inspiration form varsity letter jackets, emblazoned with logos of the brand. The varsity jackets were worn in a number of ways such as hoods highlighting spliced mixtures of colors, textures, snap to toggle closures and sleeve lengths. Hand-knit red, white and blue American flag blanket looks were belted and worn over wide peak lapel suiting. Denim trucker jackets and jeans worn as capes also seen in the collection. The decoration on the denim ranged from plain, patched with logos and painted with Jasper Johns like targets at the crotch. The denim American story is so deeply rooted and not always pretty form plantation to campus, rebel in the street and modern office wear its never stagnated in one place with one idology.
The use of gingham in the collection is also noteworthy in Bovan's Yankee inspired collection. Gingham is a humble fabrication one which American Hollywood designer Adrian placed in most of the films he designed for. One of most famous was Dorothy's dress the Wizard of Oz (1939). Adrian is credited with the creation of the famous Connecticut Yankee style of Kathrine Hepburn, creating countless fashions and notably pants for her. As a matter of fact Adrian was also famous for his use of stars as a recurring motif an illustration habit he developed as a fashion student at Parsons School of Design and carried through in costume design in films such as The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and Marie Antoinette (1938).
Re-purposed and re-imaged hand painted bomber jackets, flight jackets and even track jackets form Matty Bovan's past collaborations with Adidas, Converse All-Star. Alpha Sport and Calvin Klein. Skits and dresses were also a major part of this non-binary statement collection. Text as image and motif communicated messages of 'Hopeful', 'All American West,' 'Washed over US Oil Soaked Limbs...' and USA. Much of the text highlighted some very dramatic signage like modern art knits seen thoroughout the collection
The re-imagined and re-purposed also included puff ball gown shapes fashioned with attenuated aprons a historically Anglomania style. There were frankly British moments in the middle of all the Americana. Bovan repurposed his Vivienne Westwood collaborations and there were flashes of the Union Jack. American iconography is easy to mine and to play with equally as easy as the use of Edwardian motifs such as puffed gigot de mouton sleeves, modernly paired with statement leather opera length gloves an ongoing F/W 2022/2023 theme on both sides of the pond.
This was a wonderful collection by Matty Bovan full of commentary, observation and experience. It never strays from what the label is known for, it maintains an authentic brand sense even when mining rural New England.