“This season the Self-Portrait girl is ready to start dressing up again to go out,” the designer Han Chong explained via Zoom from the back of a cab in London. A familiar uttering across many brands recently, but one that has always been true for Chong, who has made his name making groovy dresses for women to wear to their most festive occasions. “There’s a focus on evening wear, but we want it to be effortless and allow for ease of movement, the comfort is not compromised,” he added.
This meant he zeroed in on fabrics like a mesh with ruching made into va-va-voom bodycon dresses with shaped bustier bodices, and loose slip dresses created in an allover beaded mesh or lace with the same throw-it-on-and-go attitude of a t-shirt. There were also abbreviated skirt suits made of tan or red bouclé, a thick cream-colored chain knit, and even stonewashed denim, that could in theory be worn to the office—especially if your office is, say, a real estate firm that is also the focus of a reality TV show. “The bouclé and houndstooth are fabrics that usually remind you of very ladylike, prim silhouettes, and we were looking at how to make them young and fun for our customer.”
The collection will be immediately available for sale on the Self-Portrait website, proof that its direct-to-consumer business is doing well. Perhaps that’s also why when Chong referred to the “Self-Portrait woman,” and the importance of giving her choices for the many “roles of her lifestyle,” he seemed to be referring to real-life women (“there’s an evening option, there’s a work option, there’s a fun option!”) rather than a fantasy female made up from a myriad of inspirations and references. “Self-Portrait is a democratic brand,” Chong explained. “It’s very important to fulfill the needs [of women], that is the starting point of every collection.” Self-Portrait’s devotees are likely to agree that he has.