The Spring 2022 Collections: A Celebration In Mediocrity

Balmain Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit: Gorunway

There’s always a disconnect between reality and the runway, but it is much more exaggerated this season. There’s been an ongoing discourse about how much the world, and all of us, have changed since the advent of COVID, and how that might affect fashion.

Yet, many designers are not focused on moving the needle forward or creating clothing for our “new reality”, unless of course, you’re looking at reality from the viewpoint of Zendaya, Beyonce, Duo Lipa, or the Kardashians. I hope to be inspired but tend to reject much of what I see. Maybe it’s because I’m jaded?

Givenchy Spring Summer 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit: Gorunway

Many designers appeal to the young generation by sexing it up, with the results often being disastrous. They are trying too hard to be edgy, au courant, or avant-garde. So much is overthought, gimmicky, costumey, and unnecessarily complicated. It is all too exhausting. There are parts of Louis Vuitton that look better geared for a Halloween party than real life. Indeed, Comme des Garcons almost looks ‘normcore’ this season.

Givenchy Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit: Gorunway

Speaking of complicated; tailoring, peplums, transparency, corsetry, and ruffles, sometimes all showed up in the same outfit at Givenchy. Matthew Williams, who first caught the eyes of the fashion world with his label, 1017 ALYX 9SM, has yet to find his footing at Givenchy. He is all over the place.

Balenciaga Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit: Balenciaga

Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia is undeniably brilliant. But, Demna is at his best when he goes into his Haute Couture mode and channel Cristobal’s voluminous shapes and magnificent fabrications. Unisex streetwear is another story. The oversized coats, hoodies, distressed denim, elongated black tunics, always look the same. And, they hardly warrant the high price tags that go along with them.

Chanel Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit: Gorunway

And sorry to say, I cannot warm up to Virginie Viard’s Chanel. It is hit and miss, and I often feel it just does not look luxurious. Another once-iconic Parisian label that has all but lost its identity is Lanvin, designed by Bruno Sialelli in 2019. Sialelli is the fourth designer to take the helm since Alber Elbaz was unceremoniously let go in 2015.

Loewe Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit: Filippo Fior for

It’s easy to be wowed by Rick Owens’ strangely beautiful artistry and the creative experimentation of Jonathan Anderson at Loewe. But let’s face it, not many women are going to run around town in sheer tattered spider web sweaters, body distorting clothing with oversized gilded breastplates and ill-placed projectiles. I sure won’t. And really, I need a dress with a pronounced hole in it, like I need a hole in my head. So, what are we going to wear?

The Row Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit:

Like many other women, I am looking for those perfect elevated wardrobe basics exemplified by The Row. I want to look chic and pulled together in an easy, effortless way. My taste is classic with a touch of boyishness, and I am always drawn to tailoring. And after the craziness of this past month with so much that is demeaning, objectifying, overdone, or just plain awful, classic is precisely what’s starting to look better than ever to me.

Tom Ford Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit:

The program notes that accompanied Tom Ford’s over-the-top spring 2022 runway show held during NYFW had this pronouncement: “Increasingly, people don’t dress in fashion for the day but only for the night. Or for social media. Instagram may be what saves fashion in the end. People now seem only to get dressed up in a major way for a red carpet or to fill their pages with shots of themselves in powerfully stylish clothes.”

That is a preposterous assertion. My philosophy and I dare say that of many others, is more in keeping with Bill Cunningham’s assessment: “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” A daily uniform, which allows you to feel pulled together without spending hours doing so, is the modern basis for that armor. It’s really not that complicated!

Charlie Watts 1989 wearing Saville Row
Photo Credit: John Stoddart/Popperfoto, via Getty Images

I keep going back to an article written by Guy Trebay, The Uniform Cool of Charlie Watts” August 25, 2021. It speaks to me. In Trebay’s discourse, he notes that the late Rolling Stones drummer cultivated and perfected an elegant, serene and impeccable personal style. His signature uniform of Savile Row suits and custom shirts differed markedly from that of his bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and it set him apart.

Nili Lotan Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit: Emily Soto

Having that rigorous and finely honed sense of style and sticking to it, regardless of what designers are proposing or others are wearing, is even more critical and appealing now. Nili Lotan is a well-priced label that consistently delivers chic wardrobe basics.

Miu Miu Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit: Miu Miu

Coincidentally, Miu Miu, easily one of the best and most directional collections of the season (along with Prada), is an ode to uniform dressing. Held on the final day of Paris Fashion Week, Miuccia calls it “Basic Instincts.” The designer takes unisex, collegiate, preppy, wardrobe basics – chinos, button-down shirts, carcoats, pleated shirts, cabled sweaters then subverts them by deconstructing and tweaking proportions and chopping off the fabric to reveal a lot of skin. There are also couture-like heavily embroidered shift dresses, skirt suits, and some fantastic leather separates.

Miu Miu Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Credit: Miu Mi

It is often provocative and sexy, but in a way that is boyish, wholesome, and fresh, not raunchy. Miuccia accessorizes with black or gray knee highs, penny loafer flats, and pointy-toed penny loafer, kitten heel slingback pumps.

Phoebe Philo
Photo credit:

With its cool offhanded perversion of classics, offbeat combinations, and androgyny, not to mention the great camel coats and chino trousers, Miu Miu conjures up images of Phoebe Philo at Celine. Philo, who admittedly embraced an unapologetically tomboyish style (I don’t think I ever saw a picture of her wearing a skirt), is, of course, returning to fashion with an independent namesake house in January 2022. Boy, can we use some of Phoebe’s magic now?

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

  1. No matter what ever happens we have always looked to Paris and Italy to be dazzled, amused and awestruck, to me, most of a Europe looks like a combination of Drag Ball and Project Runway, Karl took Chanel to the grave, that’s for sure. Lanvin lost all its steam when they ousted Alber, and why is Balenciaga devoid of any real chic and instead looks like Cardi B went to a sample sale on 39th street ?? Is it just me ????

  2. It’s a case of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’? Totally agree with every word and so refreshing. Most major fashion journalists covering the collections are discouraged from leaving negative comments these days, presumably because of the gifts and luxe accommodation showered upon them by the fashion brands or the prospects of show bans if something displeasing is written . Fashion ournalists now write appreciations rather than critiques. I thought I was a lone voice or going mad- thank you ! Kerry Taylor

  3. Instead of a designer anything this season invest in designer scissors. DYI projects are calling according to the runways. We also talk about inclusion in fashion . Most seen on this year’s offerings are X rated at best. With business trying for a re-bound, I don’t think all of the bra tops will head any best seller lists. With all of the cheeky designer frocks on hand, women unfortunately will be shopping in their closets once again.

  4. Excellent review, Marilyn Kirschner. Your observations about absurd fashion – who needs it? – is exactly how I feel when I look at this season’s videos. Thank you.

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