While we were all out celebrating during the Jubilee bank holiday, one of Britain’s finest emerging talents was having a coronation of his own. At the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, Steven Stokey-Daley took home this year’s LVMH Prize. Graduating from the University of Westminster in 2020, right in the thick of the pandemic, the Liverpudlian designer has managed to carve out a new British wardrobe, one that addresses class inequality in the UK through queering Elitist uniforms.
Presented by Cate Blanchett, Stokey-Daley was awarded a rather delicious €300,000 cash prize, chosen by the likes of Nigo, Kim Jones, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Jonathan Anderson for his remarkable growth across the two years his namesake label has been in business. Both Eli Russell Linnetz and Winnie NY also impressed the esteemed judging panel, with both designers taking home the Karl Lagerfeld Prize, and a cash injection of €150,000 each.
To mark Stokey-Daley’s big win, revisit Sarah Mower’s interview with the bright talent inside 10 Magazine Issue 65.
Never underestimate the power of making one or two things really, really well, especially in a crisis. Steven Stokey-Daley, class of 2020, can testify to that: right in the middle of lockdown, a pair of impeccably cut, wide-legged toile de Jouy trousers, Look one in his Westminster graduation show, triggered wild demand through his Instagram DMs. “I mean, it was a hundred requests, four orders in a day at one point, from people all over – men, women, K-pop stylists,” he says, chuckling. “And there I was, back home in Liverpool with my family, not able to go out or buy anything. I had my pattern and sewing machine, and luckily I’d always stored my leftover materials. So I started replying, ‘Yes, I can do them in this fabric, if you want.’”
The tsunami had been set in motion by a post by the influencer Louis Rubi, an aficionado of super-wide tailored trousers. Stokey-Daley had loaned him his blue-rose-printed Oxford bags – “made from a huge, gorgeous linen curtain” – sometime after his Westminster BA graduation show, which got in just under the wire in February. Weeks later, in a world gone mad, here were people still excited about getting their hands on a piece of fashion. So Stokey-Daley decided he could work it out, “in my living room-slash-studio pop- up! A lovely, really good machinist in London said she was happy to help me out, because this crisis was hitting seamstresses badly. So I was able to start taking pre-orders, being careful, making sure everyone knew how long it would take.”
Stokey-Daley’s unlikely chance to earn an income in the world’s darkest hours is incredibly well deserved. His collection, based on Eton and Harrow schoolboys, had a luxury-level finish, lovingly put together largely from deadstock fabric donated by Alexander McQueen – and a subversive twist that comes from a working-class northerner looking at public-school privilege. “I’d never seen anything like pictures of Henley regatta, with the boaters they wear smothered with flowers. It started me on a spider’s web of research, on Brideshead Revisited, Sebastian Flyte, gay upper-class codes. It was so far off my culture. Coming from an ex-council estate in Liverpool, I was almost looking at them anthropologically. But that’s where this government comes from, isn’t it?”
Now Stokey-Daley – blessed with a winning combination of pragmatism and optimism – is taking it one step at a time, buying up second-hand fabric and “stunning vintage curtain material and lace” from Liverpool manufacturers. “It’s not acceptable not to talk about sustainability when you’re a student. That’s what I’ll always keep to.” Recently, he added an alluring shirt to his Instagram Stories, to see if anyone was interested.
It might seem far-fetched, but many a solid fashion business has been founded on the appeal of one item. In 1970, also a time of slump, Ralph Lauren did exactly that. Different times, different generations – but what the talented Steven Stokey-Daley has going? It resonates.
Photography courtesy of S.S.Daley. Taken from Issue 65 of 10 Magazine – FAMILY, FOREVER, LOVE – available to purchase here.