SWITCHING LANES. This year’s London Men’s Fashion Week erupted with colors and classical styles amid an unmistakably British undercurrent
Of all the fashion capitals of the world, London is perhaps the most evocative of fall. Its actual weather notwithstanding, the city’s reputation for being a rainy city makes for a particularly apt setting for a fall/winter fashion event. Certainly, no London Collections: Men show has ever failed to impress, and the latest fall/winter show—the sixth LC:M, to be exact—was as grand as ever.
Even at first glance, this year’s fall/winter ’15/’16 LC:M conjured visions of a picturesque British fall, with heaps of fallen leaves amid staunch evergreens holding their ground. In a way, the preceding analogy is quite fitting, as the predominant colors on the runways were orange and last season’s green. Both, naturally, came with their own twists.
“It became clear that another survivor of seasons past is a throwback to the fabulous seventies”
The orange came mostly in bright hues. While the usual toning down through pairings with blacks and other neutral colors did happen, patrons and attendees were more likely to see orange pieces going hand in hand with equally bright yellows—sometimes on the same garment. This was the case in, for example, two blazing jackets from Christopher Raeburn. Admittedly, the base for these two pieces was a more subdued matte orange, but the bright orange and yellow paneling certainly popped up.
Green’s comeback was perhaps not as unexpected, what with last season’s military green trend, but it was certainly noticeable across all of the runways and all attending brands. This time around, just about any shade and hue of green was present, from the lightest hues on suits by Hardy Amies to the darkest greens on jackets and coats from Alexander McQueen.
Speaking of jackets and coats, it wouldn’t be a fall/winter fashion week without a strong showing from the outerwear side; and here, it became clear that another survivor of seasons past is a throwback to the seventies. Fashion elements from the disco era already made a strong showing last season, and from what we can see so far, it would seem that this trend isn’t going anywhere soon. Unsurprisingly, flares and bell-sleeves were evident everywhere; but the most visible manifestation of ’70s fashion was the sheer volume of shearling lining seen on the runways.
Now, while shearling-lined jackets and coats can be found at both ends of London’s fashion scene, at this fall/winter LC:M, the material was certainly the star of streetwear—although still with enough variety to appeal even to more conservative dressers. The suede coats from Margaret Howell were among the most notable show stealers, and are certain to appeal to freewheeling souls looking for something to brave the chill nights of the months to come. Topman Design also had several shearling-lined coats among its vibrant outerwear options, while Coach and Belstaff brought new life to the humble shearling collar with their exquisite biker jackets. Nothing, however, was quite as eye-catching as Richard James’ take on the trend, with the shearling a bright dyed blue. A bright, eye-popping electric blue. Although, on the flip side, the cuts and silhouettes presented by the brand leaned quite heavily toward the prim and proper side.
Thus did shearling become sort of a focal point of the whole fashion week affair, as it epitomized how the new fashion-oriented residents of Savile Row pay tribute to the classics with an eye fixed on the future.
A similar, albeit less significant, approach was taken by Tiger of Sweden. The Scandinavian brand turned quite a few heads during its show when several models strutted along the runways with hoods—the kind usually associated with street apparel—popping up from under formal suit jackets in flashes of bright blue and red. It might not be a style that we’ll see anytime soon on the streets of London, but the juxtaposition of the “streetest” of street styles and the most gentlemanly way of dressing is quite intriguing.
Interestingly, another leading designer also decided to switch lanes this season, only the other way around. Tom Ford’s previous fashion week show was marked by extravagant décor, racks of his clothes lining the walls, a strictly enforced “no photography” rule and the high-end trainers he famously vowed to never do. The trainers are back, but the rest was gone, replaced by a minimalist studio setting with whitewashed walls that became the background for a rather rushed show: 30 looks in three minutes. But those were three eye-opening minutes. First and foremost, Tom Ford is back in the suiting game, with decidedly slimmer and boxier cuts. Then came the true highlight of the show: the eveningwear. Nobody quite knew what to expect from Tom Ford this season, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that everybody was pleasantly surprised.
Much in the same way, Burberry Prorsum’s Christopher Bailey gave everybody a show to remember. His main idea was a vision of India: of paisley and padded jackets, and mirror embroidery here and there. But instead of being bogged down by the usual clichés of a themed collection, the collection was a masterpiece of practical wear. While the easy way would be to apply the aforementioned references from the sub-continent as mere accents, attendees to Burberry Prorsum’s show were treated to a parade of paisley shirts in bright primary colors popping up from under classical jackets, muted shades enlivened by bands of patterns, and shawls of various hues and lengths. It also helped that the soundtrack for the show included numbers like Clare Maguire’s rendition of “Cosmic Dancer” … but that’s just icing on an already sumptuous cake.
In the end, Burberry Prorsum’s menswear collection pretty much sums up this LC:M for fall/winter ’15/’16: Color and old-school elements, remade in a modern image that is unsubdued yet pleasantly wearable. Which, in a way, is oh so sensibly British.