Photography: Voda Minjie Gong
Since streetwear’s taken over fashion, runways the last few years have been, well, boring—there’s really no way around it. I mean, I like hoodies just as much as the next girl, but I’m not trying to wait in line with a sea of 20-somethings to watch them prance down a runway. Fashion—or at least, Fashion Week—is supposed to be about fantasy, a chance to escape the mundanity (read: ugliness) of the regular world and experience beauty (read: feel bad about yourself) for just a few minutes. And while most designers have ditched the drama in favor of what’s basically the Demna effect, there are a few, like Alessandro Michele, Rei Kawakubo and Laurence & Chico, still making over-the-top, romantic fashion.
For their SS ’18 collection, designers Laurence Li and Chico Wang were inspired by makeup. The result was exaggerated shapes, pastel colors and an overall Willy Wonka vibe, that actually gave me hope for this season. Instead of some version of deconstructed suits with oversized shoulders à la Balenciaga or monochrome athletic-meets-ready-to-wear à la Yeezy Season 2, the Laurence & Chico collection was overstated in every direction. Neon colors, giant bows, stripes, ruffles, pearls—the designers created a sort of childish elegance through textured layers that felt innocent without ever being immature. Fusing that, with their innovative use of shape, they crafted highly detailed couture pieces that felt almost out of place in our minimalist, streetwear-fueled world. But that’s exactly why it’s fashion—and the kind of show you actually want to leave home for.
View behind-the-scenes photos from the Laurence & Chico SS ’18 presentation and read our interview with the designers, below.
Tell me about the collection.
The collection is inspired by Cui “Masa” Xiaohong, who is our muse and the founder of a brand called Marie Dalgar. We used a lot of neon greens, candy wrappers and pink and metallic textures, so there’s a lot that was inspired by makeup colors.
What was on your mood board this season?
Mascara, foundation and eyeshadow palettes.
How does this collection compare to the last?
Every season is a different story in our world. Last season was about flight—so it was all about pillows, coziness and oversized silhouettes. This season is really about metallics—there are still some crazy silhouettes, but the inspiration is entirely different.
Describe your brand in three words.
Light, love and quirky.
Who do you see as the Laurence & Chico customer this season?
It’s a woman’s collection, but I wear it—a lot of guys do. Now, it’s all about unisex, so just wear what you like.
Do you think fashion should be political?
Not for us—it’s not about our real world.