Louis Shengtao Chen Shanghai Fall 2022 Collection

For Louis Shengtao Chen’s third collection, the Central Saint Martins graduate served as his own muse in many ways. While reflecting on inspirations for the season, the designer—who is from Beijing, but now based in Chongqing—began looking inward at his own closet, and pulled from his own fashion tastes. “I really drew from myself with this collection,” he said. “A year into my brand, I’m finally comfortable and confident enough to display my own personal style.”

The collection has a mixture of casual and formal pieces, something Chen said is reflected in his closet. “It’s very quirky and random,” added Chen, who wanted to design pieces that fit into a variety of moods and occasions. The more casual pieces here are all things Chen wears in his day-to-day life. A gray tweed topcoat worn with a ruffled top, baggy jeans, and a crystal brooch, for instance, is a signature Chen ensemble. “That’s my look,” he said. “I’ll find a bourgeois brooch from the Brockley Market in the U.K., and pin it on a charity shop jacket.”

His outerwear was a strong point. A double-breasted overcoat, embroidered with clusters of sequins, made a statement on its own, while an oversized blue coat with slanted front pockets had just enough visual interest without looking trendy. For his cropped denim jackets, he drew inspiration from Chongqing. “The city looks a bit like Hong Kong; there’s mountains everywhere and we live on the hills,” said Chen. “I always have that image in my head—a woman riding around the city on a motorbike.”

For the more formal assortment, Chen allowed his dreamier side to shine through. Several looks featured giant draped taffeta skirts evoking the idea of a bride. “They were inspired by Sex and The City, the scene where Carrie is running away and holding up her wedding dress,” he said. His emphasis on theatrical silhouettes continued with a pink and black ballerina-inspired gown that was hand-crocheted and finished with an explosion of tulle at the hips. “It represents a ballerina with a more mature and sophisticated style,” he said. Another blue and white plaid dress had exaggerated shoulder pads, a silhouette that looked very Nosferatu.

The designer’s lacework has quickly become his signature and is a regular best-seller, so this season, Chen applied it to a variety of different pieces, including bodysuits and A-line skirts. A simple shift dress, covered in lilac lace with a high slit, felt particularly fresh—a mix of old-time glamour and a modern cut. “I like the contrast,” he said. “Sweet, but dangerous.”

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