LONDON FASHION WEEK ATTITUDE AND VERISIMILITUDE. The clash between idealism and wearability brings about a series of runways packed with sartorial showstoppers IN THE CAPITAL OF COOL.
The closing look from A. Sauvage
London is chock-full of stubborn designers. They are known for their individuality and would pull out all the stops to showcase their truest identity, both in real life and on the runways. Yet, it is hard to imagine how the spring/summer ’15 collections could top last season’s most memorable feats—namely Alexander McQueen’s vampire-esque models and Bobby Abley’s disturbing metal mouthpiece. Thankfully, what the London Collections: Men (LC:M)—the official name for London Men’s Fashion Week—may lack in dramatic exposition this time around, it more than made up for in the maturity of the design attitudes on display, which were beautifully expressed in every cut, every pattern and every color.
Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen is an exemplary figure who knows exactly how to transform attitude into striking manifestations. Her keen attention to tiny aesthetic details, such as intricate embroideries and graphics, has successfully extended the signature craftsmanship of the brand as established by its namesake founder since the beginning. But this season saw a different direction with the departure of English-oriented ideas. It’s said that the Japanese kabuki mask had made such an impression on Burton that she invented a set of swirling patterns for the collection. This innovation managed to elevate, among others, a simple white suit into a very dynamic-looking and desirably contemporary ensemble on the runway. Perhaps this new idea is even more evident in the attentively-cut long coats, which took in references from traditional Japanese clothing silhouettes. But overall, the neo-gothic attitude of the brand is not lost in this exploration of overseas design inspirations.
Alexander McQueen’s long coat
Another mix of culture that strikes the right chord is A. Sauvage’s spring/summer 2015 collection. The designer’s British upbringing and Ghanaian roots are a limitless source of design feeds, which Sauvage cleverly used to create a new reinterpretation of the “air tie” look. One of the results is a dashing black suit with a white-collared flora-printed shirt, emulating the esoteric British flair for casual dandy. Sauvage took that even further with the incorporation of artistic prints taken from the works of Brooklyn artist Matthew Craven, which feature African masks and symbols. The closing look of a black-and-white, diamond-patterned suit with a shirt emblazoned with Matthew Craven’s painting really hit the ball out of the park.
But if there’s one style that’s authentically British, it is perhaps eclecticism, owing to flourishing multiculturalism in London and across the nation. Topman Design brought back the flower power generation with psychedelic moods on the runway. Floral-patterned separates and relaxed-cut pants were met halfway through the show with a series of denim pieces, then neat suits in stripes and bright hues at the end. The collection felt casual, refreshing and free from any restricting rulebook. Speaking of books, Burberry Prorsum is going on a trip—although not literally—with a collection inspired by author and avid traveler Bruce Chatwin. Floppy hats were consistently featured throughout, as were the eclectic colors on every single outfit. Flamboyant nuances were quite apparent, but not as striking as in J.W. Anderson’s show. With backless jackets and one-shoulder-strap dresses, the gender-bending approach to menswear definitely pushed the boundaries of British eclecticism.
Moschino’s smiley logos
The LC:M spring/summer ’15 also celebrated a number of runway debuts. Jeremy Scott is no longer overseeing just the women’s collection of Italian brand Moschino, and the season saw his premier designs for the menswear line. And, boy, did Scott shake things up—his debut menswear collection was definitely a sight to remember. With a cheeky take on global capitalism, the clothing pieces bore a series of almost-too-familiar consumer goods labels. If those failed to tickle your curiosity, then a series of outfits plastered with smiley logos of various kinds—featuring various national flags or shaped to resemble Chanel’s logo—definitely would. Are these kitsch or catchy? That would depend, as always, on the eye of the beholder.
Tiger of Sweden’s final walk
Designer Craig Green also made his solo runway debut after previously showcasing his works under the joint MAN initiative. Notorious for his eccentric showmanship (remember the plywood planks that covered the models’ faces a few seasons ago?), this time around Green seemed to be able to rein in a little bit of his larger-than-life creativity. The clothing pieces were mostly monochromatic and pretty whimsical with quirky choices of fabrics and deconstructed cuts as well as messy fringes. A few of the models appeared with what appeared to be banners on their backs, which actually looked spectacular on the show itself, especially to the sophisticated piano soundtrack, “Struggle for Pleasure” by Will Mertens, playing in the background. Nonetheless, all this fit perfectly with the theme Green had chosen for the runway: Silent Protest. So, in a way, it made sense for the models to strut barefoot on the catwalk.
Topman Design’s final walk
One last debut at LC:M was the Swedish brand Tiger of Sweden (although the brand is now owned by a Danish company). Tiger of Sweden, which is not exactly a new name in the industry—it was founded back in 1903—takes pride in crafting tailored suits for men. For this season, it reinterpreted the outfits of the 1979 cult movie “The Warriors,” which explains the incorporation of striped accents taken from baseball uniforms and caps. The fierce styling shown on the catwalk was bold, to say the least, with smart uses of neckerchiefs with suits and shirts, as well as vest and collarless shirt pairings. In essence, the collection was very masculine and came with clear sporty references, which are the current prevailing trends in today’s global fashion movement.
A showstopper at Craig Green’s runway
While there were other interesting designers such as Matthew Miller with his anti-war approach and father-and-son duo Casely-Hayford and their unique spin on ordinary ensembles, LC:M this season felt much stronger than before due to the addition of new participating designers as well as the collections themselves. And never were they just about clothes and clothes only, as the creative designers put their best efforts to express their own views and stories, which make each piece a veritable item of luxury.
Text Chris Andre