The designer liked “the idea of people in a very conservative time, dressing to be who they were,” noting that Fanny and Stella weren’t actually convicted. “They were acquitted.” It reminded him of the Victorians’ fascination with the unusual: the things that contradicted the buttoned-up austerity of their time. Enticed, he visited the National Portrait Gallery – where his show also took place – to look at its photography collection of cross-dressers in the 19th century. His research informed a collection of Victorian extremes: the really, really feminine contrasted by the tall, dark and masculine. “I loved the idea of taking these Victorian proportions and blowing them up. I wondered what Stella and Fanny would be like if they lived today; if they lived near King’s Cross,” he said. He reflected the notion in set-in puff sleeves and an acute sense of flouncy, bow-y prettification of dresses, juxtaposed by double-breasted tailoring and men’s coats (or at least what that meant before the ongoing evolution of gender codes and pronouns). On the backdrop of the National Portrait Gallery, the collection made you feel like you were living inside those paintings on the wall. “You couldn’t quite tell if some of the girls were boys and some of the boys were girls,” he said of the show, even if that wasn’t totally the case.