LFW: Dive Into David Koma Aquatic-Inspired SS22 Collection

For his latest collection, Koma took inspiration from legendary, turn-of-the-century, synchronised swimming champion, Annette Kellerman for a mystifying spectacle at the London Aquatics Centre.

WORDS Emily Phillips

A raised swimming pool served as David Koma’s SS22 set. Finished with electric blue lighting, created by the naturally refracted rays of the sun through coated windows, and illuminated by floodlights casting down from elevated diving platforms and up from the water, an ethereal atmosphere ensued at the London Aquatics Centre, designed by Zaha Hadid

The aqueous catwalk featured a high-intensity techno score, blending with the splashing steps of models clad in strappy stilettos and glittering form-fitting garms for a contemporary study of swimming costumes. The collection took its departure, entering into a dialogue between the architect’s defining lines and the constructional characteristics of classic swimwear. It created a brilliant narrative following soigné models as they quite literally walked on water. 

Proceedings kicked off with a cobalt mini dress featuring obsidian sleeves and a snug turtle neckline that is exalted through geometric inversions and asymmetric oddness. Following closely came a promenade of tech lycra dresses hybridised with swimwear, feathery gowns that swayed with each step to mimic underwater movement, and sparkling silhouettes. It evoked the aerodynamic structural properties of aquatic garments and hinted at the nuances of the wetsuit while hugging the contours of the model’s bodies like a second skin. The glamorized colour palette, derived from archetypal colour-blocked sportswear, was made up of pale yellow neon, fuchsia, bubblegum pink, and aqua while inky black elevated the collection from simple swimwear to delectable designs perfect as post-pandemic partywear. 

What was really special were the transparent sequins that gave an illusory effect so as to appear freshly submerged in water. Paired with the water slicked hair of a diverse cast, the memory of aquatic garments is eternalised. 

For his latest collection, Koma took inspiration from legendary, turn-of-the-century, synchronised swimming champion, Annette Kellerman. The renowned athlete was one of the world’s first women to wear a one-piece swimsuit, and in 1952 her likeness was played by Esther Williams in the film Million Dollar Mermaid. The Georgian designer drew from the kaleidoscopic fusion of pro-level synchro and showgirl sensibility of Busby Berkeley’s choreography in the film. For a collection rooted in the transformation of swimwear to day and eveningwear, Berkeley’s inimitable confluence set the stage. 

An asymmetric one-leg leotard, as initially worn by American world-record-breaking sprinter, Florence Griffith Joyner, was immortalised in jet black as it emerged as the thirteenth look. It came paired with an opaque aquamarine stocking with a fluffy feather top for a playful take on athleticism paired with conspicuous notes of glamour. 

Drawing lines to David Koma’s latest handbag proposal, the decolletages and hems of dresses were adorned with solid and sculpted geometric configurations crystallised in neon jewel embroideries that pay tribute to the architectural language of Zaha Hadid. 

As anticipation brewed in the humid aquatic environment before the show commenced, I sat stunned by the pure magnitude of the set-up. And as soon as the procession of swim-style clothes emerged from the depths of backstage, one look in particular drew my attention. Coming to the fore of the collection was a hot-pink two-piece sequin suit. Glittering as if water droplets were sprinkled all over, the co-ord two-piece danced in the floodlights with each footfall. 

As a whole, the production and presentation of the SS22 collection were undeniably successful in capturing the athleticism core to the duality of performance and sensuality; and did so through an absolutely stunning set of glamorous garms. 

2012’s Olympic legacy lives on in this fashionable repurposing of its pool with this unifying gesture between fashion and athletics. As the collection transpired, David Koma ushered in a new kind of waterwear: partywear for the pool. 

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