Designer Conner Ives mixes his New York upbringing with his London cool kid education. Between his whimsical shapes, punchy colors, and patchwork fabrics, it’s no wonder Adwoa Aboah and Rihanna have become fans.
And with the fall 2022 shows just kicking off in London, all eyes were on the American designer. Even though this may have been Ives’ runway debut at London Fashion Week, he has already built up a cult following of industry insiders. Before he even finished his degree at Central Saint Martins, Rihanna hired him to work on her Fenty line with her, and he had retailers like Brown’s selling his line, for example.
For fall 2022, Ives made a strong statement about the sentiment of new American style. He drew directly from American archetypes and aesthetics: Jackie O, Andy from The Devil Wears Prada, contestants from America’s Next Top Model, and even the models from Isaac Mizrahi’s iconic film Unzipped.
Paloma Elsesser strutted down the runway in a “Just Say No” skirt and top in ruched fabric, while others wore long A-line gowns with kaleidoscopic prints and bohemian scarf dresses with opera-length gowns. The key here was that Ives took style codes from many decades of American style, and then brought in his own touch of mismatched styling. The result felt like a welcome mix of new and old. Some of the pairings were slightly off-kilter, yes, but that was kind of the point.
Ives also makes sure to put a focus on upcycling, using leftover materials from designers he previously worked for. That concept could be seen in the deliciously collaged t-shirts, or the spaghetti-strap slip dresses in revolving layers of printed fabrics. Some of the upcyled garments were more obviously American, too, like the Route 66 dress done in t-shirt fabric and fringed to submission. Or the Ohio State Buckeyes t-shirt and matching skirt, with added textural details that partly resembled distressed bows. Either way, the use of recycled fabrics has fast become a signature for the new brand. Last season’s collection, for instance, was 75% recycled materials hailing from the likes of the Fenty Warehouse and other labels on his resume.
But Ives has the ability to create beautifully simple pieces as well. You only had to glance at the silky white draped gown and matching head scarf (which a bride could easily wear down the aisle) or the black tailored mod suit to realize that. But it was the maximal pieces that left us craving more.
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US