Autumn/winter 2022 marks a new chapter for emerging Liverpudlian designer Steven Daley, who was recently announced as a semifinalist for the prestigious LVMH prize. After three seasons of exploring a consistent narrative under his label S.S. Daley, he’s embarking upon a fresh direction. Here’s everything you need to know.
Steven made his first foray into womenswear
“Though I practice menswear and specialise in menswear, I’ve never solely seen the clothes just on men,” says Steven. “The brand encompasses these ideas of femininity and masculinity… it just feels right to sort of cross the bridge and not have to specify or be exclusive to menswear. It feels like the right time.”
The collection and show were inspired by English stately homes
For the past three seasons, Steven has been inspired by English public schools, decoding ideas of class, same-sex love, identity, masculinity and sexuality through his own unique lens. “I think we wrapped last season in a bow quite nicely,” he says. English stately homes were the starting point for autumn/winter 2022 – specifically the “upstairs, downstairs” culture. Together with his boyfriend Leo, a dancer and movement director, a “hybrid cast” of models and dancers, and Harry Lambert, Harry Styles’s stylist, Steven staged a show that centres around the “inside and outside” of the stately home and “everything that it entails.”
It marked the start of a new chapter
As Steven admits, his well-loved shirts and knits are brand staples, but he wanted to try “sexy” this season – a shift that’s been in his head for some time. “I felt restless with the output being solely beautiful or solely pretty,” he says. “That’s not fully representative of me as a person or me as a designer, so I suppose it’s just that we’re now telling the other half of the story.” What does sexy look like to Steven? Stately references are injected with “modern edge”, such as the “subverted” waistcoats in the collection. “The idea of sex and sexiness has changed so much,” he adds.
As ever, he approached the collection with a conscious mindset
From the curtain trousers and tablecloth shirts in his graduate collection – famously worn by Harry Styles in his “Golden” music video – to the antique embroidery he used for spring/summer 2022, Steven is renowned for discovering beauty in deadstock and found fabrics. Autumn/winter 2022 posed a new challenge: trying to scale up as a business while remaining “mindful and ethical”. “The really exciting part of this collection is that we managed to find a warehouse in the UK that has thousands and thousands of metres of surplus fabric that have been discarded from bigger brands, fabric shops and retailers,” he shares. “It means that we offer a first come first served and limited quantity for the buyers… there’s no more after that.”
He was finally able to use a cherished Diana reference
One particular picture has been on his moodboard for years: a photograph of Diana, Princess of Wales wearing a thick tartan coat that he’s finally been able to interpret this season. “We’ve never been able to find the right sort of fabric,” he says. “Finally, we found one that matched perfectly, so we made that dream come true.”