Sir Ian McKellen took the stage by storm at the S.S.DALEY show in Soho, where he emerged from the shadows dressed in a silk sailor’s cap and a navy peacoat adorned with a nude male form. Reciting one of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Arthurian poems, his rich Shakespearean voice spoke of powerful waves and thundering voices, showcasing the presence that comes from a lifetime in the spotlight.
Stokey-Daley, the designer behind the show, has always been known for incorporating the energy of live performance into his runway events, often working with the National Youth Theatre to create elaborate productions that blur the line between the runway and theater. However, this season was going to be different, with Stokey-Daley planning to do away with the theatrics until Sir Ian McKellen reached out to the designer, which led to him opening the show.
Stokey-Daley’s rise to fame has been swift, beginning in 2020 when he sent his portfolio to stylist Harry Lambert, who dressed Harry Styles in a full look for his “Golden” music video. From there, attention skyrocketed, leading to S.S.DALEY winning the LVMH Prize and the emerging designer award at the British Fashion Awards. Despite this success, Stokey-Daley felt a sense of deflation after the show last September, feeling like he had a lot to prove after winning the LVMH Prize.
Stokey-Daley channeled his emotions into his latest collection, inspired by the music of Kate Bush and her epic song cycle “The Ninth Wave” from her groundbreaking 1985 album Hounds of Love. The collection was a queer fantasia set on the high seas, incorporating elements of raw sexuality and homoeroticism. The womenswear was also more sensual, with bias-cut silk gowns and louchely unbuttoned shirt dresses. With a robust celebrity following, it’s only a matter of time before these pieces hit the red carpet.
Stokey-Daley has moved beyond the preppy charm of his previous collections and added a touch of provocation to his designs, lending the clothes a necessary edge. Despite feeling like he was drifting off course for a moment, Stokey-Daley is now steering his ship with a steady hand.
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