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Autumn /Winter 2022

The 2022 Fall/Winter collection of Louis Shengtao Chen, entitled “Reflection”, is an introspective evolution of the house and its creative director.

“During my time at Central Saint Martins, we all had to do a task called‘Reflection’.Every week we would look at what we have done, learned, and how we have grown in a workflow reportformat, and I find thatpracticeparticularly interesting.It was myfirst entry into aforeign land, and it gave me the habit of constant introverted observation.Although I no longer document these in aphysicalformat, instead I would collect images, videos, words andphrases,fragments of memory to look back on at the end of weeks, and observe my change, my evolution or even any strange little new addiction Ipicked up this week”, recalls Louis Shengtao Chen.

It’s a sobering awakening, an infinitive self-discovery, but never a dull moment within. Louis wants to create a stage that feels humanly but nevertheless iconic with his signature twist of Pisces fantasy, as he calls it often refers to as “hopelessly romantic” . Throughout the 2 debut collections, Louis had outputted an explosive amount of ideas and visions, full of shining star motifs, outer-worldly prints, clashed fabrics, sparkles and glittering, and had progressively condensed what is consciously essential to him. It’s ready-to-wear that thinks about utility, functionality, formality, theatricality, and everything it should entail, looks made for the everyday, perhaps one more magical than the others.

“Istop thinking about who thisperson is in this collection, and insteadI drewfrom a much more authentic and self-originated approach.Patchwork, coating, subtle details, touchable, tangible, it’s not grandiose. She’s not a warrior, she’sjustyour everydayperson, a real life hero. One that uplifts herself, holds up her surrounding,fantasizesfrom time to time, but Real with a capitalR.”

In this collection, Louis takes an opposite approach in his design philosophies in which instinct is the only guidance. What are the clothes we dream to wear, what are the pieces you can never throw away, and what are the things that we build upon our personalities with. Rather than making the woman into someone else, we hopes to encapsulate and grow with their own spirit. Brave, self-driven, independent but inter-dependant, but having also a softer, deadly romantic, selfishly rebellious, and never fails to dream on.

The collection opens with a runaway bride. Crowned with a tiara, she shines bright with her stellar lace body suit, draped with an elongated “wedding dress” for the road, clipped onto her belt buckle with a military lock. She holds herself, and owns her vision. One of the season’s most iconic looks which could easily be overlooked: a woman in a drop-shoulder wool herringbone overcoat, paired underneath a ruffle-sleeved beige knitwear and a pair of bellbottom jeans, carries large sentimental values for Louis. It originates from his personal wardrobe essentials, a look of his quotidian: easy, nonchalant, built for a slightly elevated everyday.

Worn out denim, in shades of bleach blue and stone washed grey, is used for a ruffled mini jacket and long to shin-length pencil skirts, meshing trims of laces and shifting the elegance onto the pavement streets. 80s bomber jackets with an exaggerated shoulder worn outside of semi-see-through lace dresses, imagined from the ladies on the seats of Chongqing motorcycles, a romantic reinterpretation of cinematic stills from Louis’ home and base city. The woman hikes up the hill in mid-length distressed leather boots, grabs onto her studded updated “Cone Bag”, she conquers the cities, in search for her next adventure.

Feuilles of nature shapes, overlayed leaves cover the collection in iridescent colorways, clashing in materials, transparency and texture. A layered sequin ruffle dress is covered unevenly with blurs of red dots, an adaptation from a rare bird feathers captured by Louis along his walks. It’s very much within his own “fetish” to capture nature’s organic shapes and colour formations, collected in his internal reflection processes.

The collection fluidly transitions from realist to escapist. It’s a peeled off representation of Louis himself, body and soul, injected into a collection, translating into a female form. She’s a hero, Faye Wong from her rebel youth. Facing complications in life, sometimes comply, but stays true to her quirk. We follow our own footsteps, and grow the light from within.