For spring/summer 2023, designer and LVMH Prize winner Steven Stokey-Daley of S.S. Daley took inspiration from the love letters between authors Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis with a wonderful theatrical catwalk showcase at London’s St. Pancreas Renaissance Hotel.
Daley is much more than an exceptional designer, he is a storyteller, and that came across in his ‘Vita’ catwalk show, where the National Youth Theatre cast read excerpts of the love letters surrounded by floral displays inspired by Sackville-West’s garden at Sissinghurst Castle.
On the inspiration behind his SS23 collection, Daley explained in the show notes: “In their letters, there’s a sketch of Vita and Violet arm-in-arm, walking around the south of France. They’re all in black, Vita in a tuxedo, and it’s this moment of connection when the tone of their letters is increasingly sad, when they cannot be with one another. The emotion of that moment fills this whole collection.”
For the collection, Daley continued to highlight his exploration of privilege and power today, challenging the British class system, while also offering new gender-less pieces. Highlights included cotton twill utility sets printed with florals, Calico shirts printed with 1920s seed packet illustrations and a merino wool sweater embroidered with the image of a shed in Sackville-West’s garden as if found on a Wedgewood bone china plate.
LVMH Prize winner Steven Stokey-Daley showcases SS23 collection at LFW
Other standout looks included sheer voile pintuck shirts, wide-legged corduroy trousers, balloon-sleeve blouses with botanical prints, and silk short-sleeve shirts printed with photos taken by Daley of his bedroom wall, where a tapestry hangs over striped wallpaper. Daley also made patchwork pieces from commemorative tea towels, including shirts and bags, which marked his first accessories.
There was also a rabbit theme running through the collection, inspired by the letters, with jersey long-sleeved muscle tops embroidered with the words ‘Bunny Boy,’ while other models wore bunny ears, and some had whiskers painted onto their faces. In addition, there was a full trench coat printed with a 1700s etching of a hare and a cotton-laced polo shirt featuring two hares dancing on the front.
This season also included a collaboration with Dan Levy’s DL Eyewear. There are two key frames, one rounded and one more square that play on 20th-century English eyewear figures from across the class divide. While footwear was made for the designer by Malone Souliers, including lace-ups, tassel loafers and slip-on styles.
While the collection stood out for its craftsmanship and design, the highlight had to be the casting. It was great to see a menswear designer utilising a diverse cast with models of all shapes and sizes to showcase his collection.