With a flurry of hypnotising prints, kitten-heeled sandals, and a haunting array of children’s dolls, PRONOUNCE hit the runway today with their SS23 collection, one of the final shows London had to offer. Despite the dolls – or thanks to them, depending on what you’re into – the collection, which featured a string of baggy fits, hand-knitted jumpers, and cocooning jackets, was captivating: evoking a sense of apprehension for the future which we found particularly fitting.
The brand’s designers, Yushan Li and Jun Zhou, produced the collection based on a sense of aimlessness and animosity towards the future, which is felt through the looks’ brooding colour scheme and messy utilitarian tailoring. Whilst there are many reasons this sense of foreboding is felt in our post-pandemic society, in the wake of the UK’s recent loss of our longest reigning monarch it feels more timely today than could’ve been anticipated. Witnessing London Fashion Week unfold – or not in the case of some brands – amidst Queen Elizabeth’s funeral has painted each show with a heavy brush, but it’s even harder to forget the context when the collection itself evokes a subtle sense of loss.
Another key theme of the show relates to the idea of nostalgia, knitting the designers’ core memories throughout the fabrics of the collection. This was seen particularly in how some of the model’s clutched antique-looking dolls to their sides; a somewhat eerie depiction of Yushan Li and Jun Zhou’s reflections on the 1990s.
The vintage Chinese vinyl dolls played a prominent role, also featuring in the form of prints repeated in psychedelic patterns across many garments. The incessant repetition of the figurines, particularly across a pair of shorts which the motif almost covers, is intended to represent the idea of a herd mentality, something which PRONOUNCE – a brand known for its individuality – surely subverts.
The brand’s iconic infatuation with the symbol of the circle this time takes the form of a hypnotising motif found throughout the collection. The emblem combines sharp edges in a complex swirl, creating a sense that the design is spinning across the garments, its hypnotising pattern drawing your eyes from one look to the next.
As is typical of PRONOUNCE, Li and Zhou prioritised sustainability in the hand craftsmanship of their looks, adapting recycled materials with high-quality fabrics to create a collection that not only looks good but doesn’t hurt the environment. The brand expertly elevates disused fabrics into luxury garments by decorating them with phantom thread-like stitching, as seen on a knitted polo jumper and schoolboy shorts.
With London Fashion Week coming to a close, looking to the future might bring a sense of aimlessness and foreboding. Just try to hold on for Milan and Paris – it’s not over yet!