Emilia Wickstead is a highly referential designer, her collections are often inspired by obscure or lesser-known references from the worlds of art and cinema. For Spring/Summer 2022, that reference was Last Year at Marienbad, the 1961 French New Wave film directed by Alain Resnais. Filmed in Cinemascope and lit with moody black and white chiaroscuro lighting, Last Year at Marienbad is a tale of romance, seduction and betrayal, where the enigmatic ‘X’ becomes convinced he has had a love affair with the enthralling ‘A’ (played by Delphine Seyrig) who claims she cannot remember him.
Wickstead wanted to explore the film’s themes for SS22, dubbing the collection “a melding of old-world and modern proportions”. But French New Wave cinema also inspired the medium through which she unveiled the collection. Rather than return to the traditional London Fashion Week runway, Wickstead chose to reveal her latest season via a short film situated in the gardens of the Badminton Estate in Gloucestershire, shot by filmmaker Robin Mellor in a way that evokes the surrealism and sense of compelling unease that made Marienbad a classic of its genre. The film’s influence even extended to the hair and makeup—models rocked a ‘60s-style coiffed updo and heavy black eyeliner, inspired by Seybrig’s look in the original film.
As for the fashion, it was ‘60s nostalgia done right. Wickstead is far too clever a designer to get overly-bogged down in her references, which meant her nods to Marienbad felt subtle and fresh. Tailored trousers were finished in a creamy textured jacquard, androgynous shirting made of raw cotton was paired with large, oversized shawls, diaphanous skirts were balanced with sleek jersey knits, reminiscent of one-piece swimsuits. Then there were the low-slung pencil skirts—Wickstead noted that the collection celebrated the waist as “an erogenous zone”—worn with super-cropped shirting, knits, and shrunken jackets. The stand-out looks featured blood orange and blue prints that were hand-painted in Wickstead’s atelier, featuring motifs of birds and fish. As we patiently await our next summer holiday, we already know precisely what we’ll be wearing.