Jenny Packham’s roving eye often takes her back in time to spark inspiration—recent collections have featured nods to everyone from Truman Capote’s swans to the grandeur of Old Hollywood—but this season she mostly had her eye on the present. More specifically, an upcoming trip she is taking to the Maasai Mara; and even more specifically than that, the rich array of wildlife that populates the region’s rolling hills and vast open plains. (Still, there was one subtle throwback in the images Packham shot for her lookbook, which were loosely inspired by the high drama of Peter Beard’s fashion photography and visibly leaned a little more theatrical than usual.)
The sartorial nods to Packham’s impending trip were woven in lightly, coming in the form of a midnight blue gown decorated with a glittering leopard print, and an abstracted zebra pattern crafted from delicate strips of bugle beads. But as usual, it was Packham’s eye for glamorous, sweeping gowns that dazzled most, with plenty of her sumptuous tulle dresses dripping with sequins and bugle beads on offer in an endless array of colors from zingy greens to delicate pastel pinks and yellows. “It’s obviously a real boom time for eveningwear at the moment, which I’ve been enjoying—even if it’s kept me very busy,” said the designer.
Perhaps the most interesting development in Packham’s reliably luxurious repertoire was her increasing nudge forward into sharper, more architectural silhouettes, with ’80s power shoulders aplenty. (A particularly striking gown offered a more restrained riff on Packham’s vision of after-dark opulence, split into four graphic black-and-white panels that were elegantly woven together at the center, with a subdued touch of sparkle on the cuffs.) Packham said with a laugh that one of the pieces looked like it could have come straight out of Dynasty, and she wasn’t entirely wrong, even if she also made sure to give those references a very 2022 sense of refinement. These were clothes inspired by and designed for a spirit of hedonism—and the addition of a sharper, more dangerous edge only made them more intoxicating.