SS Daley Is Twisting the British Higher Class Right into a Queer Style Fantasy
Lead PictureImages by Marton Perlaki, Styling by Chloe Grace Press
This text is taken from the Autumn/Winter 2022 concern of AnOther Journal:
Steven Stokey-Daley’s label SS Daley revels in the fripperies of the British higher courses, drawing on notions of sophistication and queerness, and the homosocial tensions current in elite faculties – on their rugby pitches, of their altering rooms – and exploring the camp glamour of the interwar-era English aristocracy. His handwriting can be rooted in his personal previous and the dressed-up gown sense of the working-class “glam ladies” he grew up with in Liverpool. Between the ages of 16 and 19 Stokey-Daley had a job at McDonald’s in Aintree, the place he would see them “work 15-hour days, seven days every week, simply to afford a brand new outfit to put on on a Saturday evening in Liverpool”, he recollects. “It was every part to them.” For Stokey-Daley, reclaiming the luxurious and elaborate look of previous cash seems like a tribute to these ladies – an obligation, nearly, on condition that they couldn’t entry or afford these garments, however spun gold with what they discovered on the excessive avenue at Topshop nonetheless.
Since its 2020 debut, his eponymous SS Daley model has grow to be marked for its romantic collections of billowing poet shirts, striped boating blazers, pussy-bow collared blouses and pleated twill shorts. All of which caught the eye of Harry Types’s stylist Harry Lambert who, after Stokey-Daley contacted him weeks after graduating (he gained his BA in Style Design from the College of Westminster), pulled varied objects from the choice he had been cannily promoting on Instagram. “That was loopy, it was a large increase,” Stokey-Daley remembers. At that second, in the summertime of 2020, the UK was on the tail finish of the primary Covid-19 lockdown: the designer was working alone from his childhood bed room again in Liverpool, cobbling collectively the clothes himself.
However the 25-year-old might by no means have imagined that, in simply two years, he would win the coveted LVMH prize. “That second was like, ‘What the fuck? How did we come up to now?’” he says. He has a studio in east London now, however there’s nonetheless one thing of a back-bedroom mentality to his manufacturing, if not the ultimate outcomes: “We do every part, we do all of our gross sales, manufacturing, patterns, we make every part ourselves, sketch every part ourselves.” Thus he has barely been capable of step outdoors, breathe and take within the exceptional nature – and lightning pace – of his achievements.
How his Liverpool upbringing impressed StokeyDaley’s curiosity in aristocratic and institution dressing isn’t apparent – even to the designer himself. He describes the place he grew up as “nondescript, with nothing happening there”, the structure of his hometown “red-brick, 70s council home, all on a concrete little sq.”. However amongst these unremarkable constructions there was a canal, “the one supply of nature we had”, the place the designer would go and gaze on the green-headed mallard geese. He has knitted a visible of a mallard right into a sweater, arguably essentially the most recognisable piece of his Spring/Summer time 2022 assortment. Types has worn it, after all. For Stokey-Daley, it’s a wedding of his dwelling and that obsession with elite establishments. “My investigation into Cambridge College revealed a Secret Mallard Society,” he says, barely incredulously. “There’s a mallard tune they used to sing at rowing competitions. It’s a really British chicken, it’s additionally beautiful.”
“Think about if Boris Johnson noticed me, a working-class homosexual particular person, taking his world of elites that’s so pricey to him and twisting it into this queer fantasy on a trend scale. He’d be so aggravated” – Steven Stokey-Daley
For Autumn/Winter 2022, the public-school-educated, heavy-drinking society boy of Spring/Summer time 2022 is all grown-up, with Stokey-Daley trying to institution decadence for inspiration. “I feel it seems like one particular person travelling by way of these completely different levels,” he says of his collections as an entire. “This season it’s him in his mad twenties, a second of fantasy and true expression.” Autumn/Winter 2022 references the stately houses of the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras and the fashions of each the aristocrats and employees who moved by way of them. The runway present blended era-evoking designs with homoerotic tensions in an echo of same-sex crushes, Brideshead Revisited-style. Cue: a leather-based argyle waistcoat styled solely with SS Daley-branded black underwear, excessive socks and knee braces. Alongside had been checked wool fits, matching lambswool cardigans, silk robe-like shirts, skimpy thermal vests and shorts styled with wellington boots. For Stokey-Daley, capturing the excesses of this period was a wry nose-thumbing at how institution figures – the grown-up public schoolboys who’ve lengthy populated the UK authorities cupboard – partied and drank whereas the nation was struggling underneath the harshest lockdown restrictions. And there’s a subversive energy in queering institution gown. “Think about if Boris Johnson noticed me, a working-class homosexual particular person, taking his world of elites that’s so pricey to him and twisting it into this queer fantasy on a trend scale. He’d be so aggravated,” he says.
His strategy to resourcefulness and sustainability is skewed by way of a British lens, too, his supplies primarily sourced from deadstock or recycled from present items. Stokey-Daley’s curiosity in classic supplies sourced from property gross sales was impressed by the mom of his companion, Leo Meredith, who additionally works as manufacturing coordinator for the model, and who Stokey-Daley describes as “a muse, in some respects”. Stokey-Daley factors to a set of tea towels which are scattered over a inexperienced chopping mat, a few of that are destined for the Spring/Summer time 2023 assortment. “We supply these from markets and property gross sales. Individuals die and don’t have any subsequent of kin, so their whole life goes up on the market, and other people rummage by way of these bins of linen and tablecloths.” Tea towels upcycled into shirts converse to the core British identification of the model: “A few of the tea towels are from overseas, like Mallorca tea towels,” says Stokey-Daley. “However that’s essentially the most British factor ever, isn’t it?”
This story options within the Autumn/Winter 2022 concern of AnOther Journal, which is on sale internationally now. Purchase a duplicate right here.