Self-Portrait showed its pre-fall collection in a Soho gallery back in December under a strict embargo; Han Chong prefers to wait until his pre-collection deliveries are in stores before sharing any images, mostly to avoid fast-fashion copycats. He had no idea what would transpire in the months between then and now, of course, nor that his typically bold, flashy party dresses would take on an entirely different tone by May. Self-Portrait is a brand known for those dresses, particularly its “wedding guest” dresses, making pre-fall a significant season. If things were different, women would be snapping up his sequined-lace slips and jewel-toned midi dresses for a busy summer of weddings, engagement parties, bachelorette trips, and other events in their “packed social diary” (as it was worded in the release, which must have been written back in December, too). What purpose will these dresses serve when all of that is canceled?
Plenty of women are holding out hope for late-summer and early-fall parties, and after months of social distancing, it’s fair to assume they won’t be in the mood for a little black dress. Chong’s signature flourishes—big ruffles, voluminous shoulders—and unapologetic palette will resonate with those of us looking to make a more audacious “re-entry” into the world. In the meantime, women in cities with eased lockdowns this summer might be drawn to his puffed-sleeve cotton dresses, an evolution of the more casual numbers he showed last spring. A baby-blue midi even comes with a deep panel of smocking around the waist—a fortuitous bit of comfort and ease we’ll appreciate after so months in loungewear.