David Koma’s Hypnotic Plunge

An urban dream of the deep sea.

When sunlight strikes the pavement of London’s Shoreditch neighborhood, the storied streets glimmer with stray puddles of gasoline. For Georgian designer David Koma, these liquid formations are the neon-tinted muses for his electric, effervescent show at London Fashion Week.

In this SS23 collection, petrol’s utility inspires a motorsport motif, while its liquid qualities speak to the underwater realm. The result is a daring venture into another dimension rendered in deep-sea visuals and athletic silhouettes. Aquatic elements like abstracted fishnets and wavelike cutouts swim across biker jackets, leather boots, and dark-washed denim.Koma’s bold vision morphs models into jaw-dropping portraits of maritime fantasy. The garments teem with crystal-studded starfish, plexiglass tentacles, and skintight fabrics reminiscent of scuba suits. These choices feel playful and theatrical while holding tight to the precision of haute couture.

In one look, Koma styles a macramé halter top with a matching mini skirt and knee-high boots, all framed in a floor-length blazer that cascades like a vigorous current. The monochromatic outfit spotlights a sublime shade of blue midway between indigo and sapphire. Metallic oyster shells adorn the statement jewelry that drapes over this design, as jet-black biker gloves and ovular sunglasses infuse punk-rock undertones.Another standout complements orange tie-dye with watery blues and gleaming chain mail, a compelling contrast that meditates on the tension between fire and water. This look’s shirtdress gestures toward the dive suits worn by Dr. Sylvia Earle and her Tektite II team, the first female divers to spend two weeks underwater in 1970. In a collection of buoyant, fluid garments, this outfit feels pointed and climactic – an eye-catching surprise.In several looks, Koma delicately imbues his marine-inspired garments with the lustrous sheen of petrol. In one such instance, an asymmetrical, turtle-necked minidress oozes with oily fluorescence above a structured pair of scaly boots. These pieces emphasize the galactic nature of the deep sea, where alien lifeforms glide through midnight-blue water. The effect is an incandescent work of art grounded in the sportiness central to this collection.Perhaps most breathtaking is an understated, ankle-length dress in brooding black. A swirling cutout meanders vertically like a sinuous strand of nude-toned seaweed, while a bronze bikini evocative of hidden treasure shines from beneath the dress. This futuristic look is mysterious and sleek, sinking the viewer into the ocean’s enigmatic depths. Here, Koma flexes his wide-ranging mastery of both overt and discreet designs.Koma’s newest collection insists that its audience think big. Displayed on the same city blocks that once housed Shakespeare’s first performance in 1576, this show finds fantasy in the history and details of London’s streets. “It’s about harmonizing environmental and unintentional, man-made beauty,” Koma commented in a preview.

This stunning combination of organic and artificial encourages us to uncover the stories baked into our surroundings. The outcome is a boundlessly surreal universe – all from a puddle of gasoline.

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