Ryan Lo’s designs are perhaps most recognised for their saccharine sweetness, their nods to manga and maximalism. Previous collections have seen Lo dive into the delightfully cartoonish fairytales of Hello Kitty, Sylvanian Families, even pirates. Seven years in the industry and his designs remain embedded in these tropes, this season showing a celebration of his collections past. 'After all these years it just felt like I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. It feels really comfortable doing no theme and to revisit ideas and fabrications,' said Lo. 'A little section of the panda, dim sum girl, the hair from the first collection, the make-up from the Sylvanian Families and the Chinatown collection. Different themes pass different ideas.'
The presentation, set amongst the velveteen pinks of Sketch London’s David Shrigley gallery room (can you think of a more perfectly suited location?) saw Lo’s girls peppered around the room, some with a beautifully manicured mannequin lunch date. Both were posing in salon-style fashion, elongated, elegant and self-assured amongst the buzz of wading onlookers. The gallery, of which took Lo and his press team three seasons to lock down, was a bucket list location and one that allowed Lo to flex with his greatest hits. One often thinks of Lo’s work as hyper-cutesy, glitter, and frou-frou, but Sketch’s wall-to-wall rose allowed for Lo to really play with a majority monochromatic palette, the maximalism here in the mood and furniture, rather than in the garments. These pieces let the viewer dive into the details of decadent beading and lace, qipao necklines, mille-feuille sheer bodices, and evening gloves. While the dustings of rainbow and shimmer on floor length gowns felt modern-day Victoriana.
It’s a little self-indulgent, but why not? It’s all a reflection of Lo’s inner workings and when the pieces reflect the designer so personally, it adds a depth and unpredictable desire. Take the hats, for example, designed by Stephen Jones, they were emblematic of Yayoi Kusuma, as too was the slogan 'I LOVE ME' cited in the notes. 'This season we have Yayoi Kusama hats, my favourite artist,' said Lo. 'I have a Kusama pumpkin cushion and I said to Stephen "Can you turn this cushion into a hat?" The way he makes it, it just drapes and it falls, it looks like a giant flower petal!' That's one of Lo’s winning attributes, the merging of almost comical delight and design. The alchemy of pushing femininity to its edge and adding a tomboyish twang; boots, menswear-inspired chapeaus - this season's were perhaps the most feminine of his designs with Stephen - or dark, moody make-up. 'There was always this sophisticated side, it wasn’t just the manga, it is sweet and cute but it’s always elevated.' I couldn't agree more.