Chet Lo’s stratospheric rise over the past few years has been fueled, in part, by his popularity among a certain contingent of Gen Z idols. (His signature spiky, sheer knitwear is regularly spotted on the likes of Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and Kylie Jenner.)
To wit, the front row at the New York–born, London-based designer’s debut solo show today was packed with at least a dozen of the latter city’s underground nightlife fixtures, all decked out in his sherbet-hued popcorn tops and skirts from head to toe.
They may have got something of a shock, though, when the zen atmosphere of Lo’s runway prelude—the darkened show space scented with burning incense, and accompanied by the soothing sounds of a gong bath—ended abruptly, as bright-white lights flipped on to a thundering techno soundtrack.
(So bracing was the transition that a few attendees visibly jumped.) Yet it was a neat introduction to the joyful clash of cultures that underpins Lo’s aesthetic and makes him more than just the creator of an undeniable It piece—and his chopped-and-screwed blend of Y2K raver chic mixed with playful nods to his East Asian heritage was expressed here in its most fully realized form yet.
The sound bath intro may have been a more literal reference to Lo’s cultural background, but his upbringing was woven through the collection elsewhere in subtler ways, too. Inspired by a Buddhist tale Lo’s father would recount to him as a child, in which a sea of arrows are shot in the Buddha’s direction only to metamorphose into flowers, Lo added a series of clingy knit looks with curved cutouts intended to create a slashed effect inspired by the marks left by whizzing arrows. (As a more subdued riff on his prickly durian fruit textures, anyone drawn to Lo’s vision—but not quite bold enough to wear his more outré pieces—will find succor here.)
That’s not to say Lo didn’t also indulge his more flamboyant instincts, most notably in the accessories department. His eye for topsy-turvy proportions shone through in a series of Chinese conical hats rendered in his signature thistly fabrics, while balloon-like bags were slung over models’ shoulders like enormous, barbed medieval clubs.
Another homage to Lo’s childhood spent accompanying his parents to temples came in the lotus flower motifs abstracted across ribbed separates, and—in a one-two punch of spectacular closing looks—embedded as gloopy, gelatinous embellishments pinned to sheer white gowns and wreathing the models’ hair.
It was cheering to see Lo evolve and present a broader, more robust offering this season; a clear foundation for the future of his brand. But as the penultimate show of this season’s London Fashion Week, Lo’s riotous energy, a celebration of the city’s subcultures, and willingness to learn a little bonkers also captured what the British capital’s fashion scene does best—even in the face of the uncertainty prompted by the period of national mourning over the past 10 days. Taking a sprint down the runway at the end of the show, Lo’s club-kid acolytes erupted into a chorus of approval—one that was entirely deserved.