“Growing up, my access to pop culture was heavily influenced by America,” recalls Matty Bovan, the York-based designer making waves in the British fashion scene. “American baseball, pep rallies, and cheerleaders” were just a few of the compulsory details that made up Bovan’s picture of a nation—one that was sourced from television shows, and built around their most iconic characters.
These memories served as the base for Bovan’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection, showcased in the crypt of London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The models were cast as jocks and patriots and small-town girls—sometimes, all three at once. Bovan’s looks were layered, luridly colored and patterned—totally maximalist, in his signature style. His show was titled Cyclone, a reference to the tension the designer experienced while sourcing inspiration deep in Connecticut at the height of the Omicron variant. “I dealt with it the only way I knew how,” says Bovan. “[By creating and telling] a story. My work has always played between reality and fantasy, and this friction is key to my universe.”
The garments drew, quite literally, from American staples: Bovan incorporated cuts from Calvin Klein jeans, Vivienne Westwood tailored jackets, Converse sneakers, Adidas tracksuits, and high school varsity jackets to create pieces that combined innovation with fashion history. T-shirts and trousers were printed, painted, and sequined; the models wore eye black, and their shoulders were brought out to resemble football pads. Each ensemble was theatrical and impressively sculptural, with gingham and American flag insignia competing for center stage.
At the center of Bovan’s universe is a love for subversive storytelling—for taking the most recognizable elements of a thing, and presenting them anew. “I wanted to again explore the dystopic themes which I always gravitate towards,” says the designer. “But this time, with a thread of hope running throughout like an inner core of strength.”