Back to London Fashion Week after 2 years, Chinese-born and Dior haute couture-trained designer Huishan Zhang presented his Autumn-Winter 2022 celebrating the legacy of Marella Agnelli, an Italian aristocrat, society darling and patron of the arts who Richard Avedon declared “the most beautiful woman I ever photographed”. Also, Babe Paley, the American socialite, tastemaker and 20th-century fashion figure who was best friends with Truman Capote. Both were contemporaries and wore haute couture from history’s biggest houses.

It’s this interesting clash of worlds – classical and modern meets pop culture – that HUISHAN ZHANG has tried to capture for a new generation. If today’s youth were to alter, fit and augment the couture wardrobes of these icons, what might it look like?

This season’s silhouettes are eclectic but always refined. What at first glance might be a sharply
constructed jacket is actually an off-the-shoulder top in crepe wool. A jumpsuit with hand-embellished straps is actually tailored separates. While the architectural lines of mini dresses and bustier tops are highlighted by hand-embroideries. Perfect for Capote’s legendary Black and White Ball.

Set against the backdrop of an iconic Mayfair townhouse, the soundtrack for Autumn-Winter 2022 is
full of beautiful contrasts too. Sampling cinematic scores, electro and British techno, it’s as if a playlist has been compiled that flattens eras and subcultures. That’s the approach to textures and palette too.

Big on joy, HUISHAN ZHANG’s combined everything that feels like ‘us’ (think bouclé with fringing made of pearls, ruffled trims, marabou on denim) and colours that feel optimistic. That means rich varieties of pink, red and blue shot through with canary yellow and emerald.

In an age where everyone can shape their own identities, free from the strict social etiquettes that
Agnelli and Paley were surrounded by, the most important thing is to just have fun with it.

Images by Isidore Montag