INTERVIEW: Chet Lo Is Entering His Darkness Era for FW23

Chet Lo doesn't think you know his next move, and more importantly -- he doesn't want you to. The Chinese-American designer returned to London Fashion Week this season for a second time and admittedly, it was a starkly different showcase to the one that we saw last year.

Dubbed "BIOLUMINESCENCE," FW23 allowed its audience to step into the darkness for a change, and not need to see the light. Offering a much darker color palette, the collection built upon Lo's signature spike aesthetic and added elements of gothcore and edginess -- something that the designer has been excited about experimenting with for some time.

"I don't want each show to feel monotonous or for people to think that they know what to expect from me," Chet Lo tells Hypebae. "I've set a standard for myself and I want each season to be a new exploration," he continues, adding that for this season, he was "looking at more of a darkness that I've been experiencing, just going through the emotional turmoil that is fashion."

We caught up with the designer to find out more about the story behind FW23 and what the future holds. Scroll down to read the full interview.

Last season marked your runway debut. How does it feel to be back?

I had so much fun last season in terms of being able to play with my own music and being able to play with my own atmosphere for the show. I was really excited to get into this season because the general direction for the show was really different to what we've worked with in the past.

SS23 drew from your childhood experiences and your Buddhist upbringing, what were some of the core themes and inspirations behind this season?

This season I was looking at more of a darkness that I've been experiencing, just going through the emotional turmoil that is fashion. I drew from that kind of gothic feel for the collection. The way that we used color was in a completely different way than what we're used to. The fabric manipulations this season changed, a lot of the things that we used and lot of new techniques really changed. The collection is called Bioluminescence and about this idea of being surrounded in a pitch black ocean and seeing these twinkles of light flashing through.

Why was it important for you to explore the darkness this time?

I think I'm so tired of people assuming that they might see my work and think that they know me. You shouldn't be able to know what I'm going to do next. I've set a standard for myself and I want each season to be a new exploration. I'm getting tired and I've seen the same things from different brands. I don't want each show to feel monotonous or for people to think that they know what to expect from me. So I really want to bring something new each season and I get bored as well. This change is really mainly to keep myself entertained.

Can you tell us a bit about the process? Where did you begin?

I took the visualization of literally descending into darkness, as a result, there's a lot of rotations of imagining a submarine literally going and graduating from light blue to dark. From there, we created these really amazing fabrics and techniques to replicate that and just tried to create different silhouettes that we hadn't used before.

At the risk of sounding like I know your work... spikes have always been a part of your signature design aesthetic. How has that element of your work evolved this season?

Our spikes are all knitted, as you might know, and so we primarily always use nylon or polyester because it holds the shape really well. But this season we experimented with wool as well, because I liked its organic feel. And I think also in a consumer way like I know you know polyester has certain pros and cons and I wanted to explore more organic and natural fibers. Wool is so nice in that way because it wicks the sweat off you and surprisingly, it is actually quite breathable. It has a more practical use as well as being more durable, so we tried to use that this season and it's been really interesting to dive into that new world of yarn.

What do you hope that the audience will feel when seeing the collection? What's the aim for you?

I want them to be shocked and feel the sensual darkness that I'm trying to bring. I want them to feel like, "Oh Chet Lo isn't just for the party girl. It's not just a happy happy go lucky collection." It's something that I can wear to a boardroom meeting. This is something I can wear to an executive brunch and be like a boss, but look incredible. That's the vibe.

We love that vibe. At the moment your shows and presentations have always taken place in London. Outside of the U.K., where else could you see yourself showcasing?

I honestly love London so much. I've grown up here in uni. I've formulated myself here so at the moment, I really can't see myself going anywhere else. I think if I was able to do a runway show on the mountains in Tibet I'd do that, that would be amazing. But you know, it's very hard to get there. In an ideal world, it would be incredible to do it in a jungle or like deep under the water, in a submarine. That would be amazing.

That would be amazing. Finally, what's next for you? Aside from hosting a show in a submarine, of course.

There's a lot of different collaborations that we're doing this year and I'm really excited about that. I really want to be able to expand brand out of just fashion and into the world of design. We have a lot of different projects that are coming out and I just want to be able to invite people into the world a bit more, you know. I think I have a lot more to offer than those [areas] and I really want to touch every part of someone's life and be able to invite them into my universe.