NEW SCHOOL. Youthful energy and quirkiness collide under the huge umbrella that is London Collections: Men, an event forever breathing fresh air into the ever-growing menswear landscape
Burberry models don stylish blankets for the finale
While fashion giants in Milan draw inspiration from the movements of style-savvy modern gents that walk the city streets, and menswear juggernauts in Paris bring home intriguing stories from their lavish trips and personal experiences, London designers bring a homegrown rawness to the table. Arguably, this is no great surprise given how young and progressive these British designers are, a fervent passion for experimentation coursing through their veins. Accordingly, there is an identifiably invigorating energy in the air at London Fashion Week—officially called London Collections: Men (LC:M)—and it never relinquishes. Even “mature” houses such as Burberry Prorsum and Margaret Howell still brim with youthful exuberance and wit, blended perfectly with the timeless elements in their designs.
One element of rawness appears through style that follows the theme of life imitating art. Even Christopher Bailey goes as far as naming Burberry Prorsum’s fall/winter collection “A Painterly Journey” in light of him incorporating works of Lucian Freud, Ben Nicholson, Christopher Wood and Duncan Grant for the prints, layering tricks and shapes of the pieces. Bailey also lets go of the idea that colder seasons always call for thicker clothes, evident through his use of bare-chested models and thrown-over-shoulder scarves. Meanwhile, a more traditional “winter” element does make an appearance in the form of a blanket used in lieu of coat, a resurgent trend borrowed from the brand’s womenswear presentation.
A loud fashion statement from Bobby Abley
“It is the emerging visions of London’s fashion wunderkinds that has primarily drawn editors and buyers to the capital of coolness this time”
Also featuring renowned painter Lucian Freud within the fall/winter pieces is Alexander McQueen, albeit by utilizing a photo of the artist himself rather than his artwork. Shot by John Deakin, a British photographer known for documenting the domestic art scene, images of a young Lucian Freud appear on shirts and trench coats. Overall, the largely monochromatic collection presents a gothic, melancholic feeling that is only heightened by the nostalgic qualities of the Welsch Chapel venue, which served as a trendy nightclub in the eighties.
Yet art aside, it is the emerging visions of London’s fashion wunderkinds that has primarily drawn editors and buyers to the capital of coolness this time. Rising fashion star J.W. Anderson—now the creative director of Spanish brand Loewe—remains the harbinger of the conversation on feminine masculinity; the term “gender-bending” seems a rather inappropriate one to use when referring to Anderson’s elegant designs. Having cut its teeth at last year’s event, another newcomer Topman Design also executed a remarkable runway show with memorable and progressive collection pieces. The cleverly orchestrated indoor precipitation used to signal the close of the Topman Design presentation expertly emphasized the qualities of the survivor-inspired and proportion-challenged clothes, the garments appearing combative toward the often-bleak London weather. Concurrently, weather features as part of Christopher Raeburn’s drive for his fall/winter offering. The designer, who has become a household name for creating innovative, eco-friendly collections, repurposes several vintage pieces into a series of outerwear and separates, ready to bolster the climate change agenda.
Alexander McQueen goes gothic
Topman Design injects colors for its survivor-inspired collection
On the sartorial front, it is surprising to see Tom Ford, the master of suits, turning to luxe sportswear for the season. However, careful not to depart from his signature style, the leather jackets, sweaters, coats and even sneakers are dashingly elegant and dapper—much alike his dressier trademark pieces. Hackett London, on the other hand, remains fiercely loyal to showcasing British tailoring. In a collection reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s recent movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” the aptly tailored suits, blazers and trousers display intriguing color ways and classic patterns.
However, the ultimate display of the unadulterated rawness synonymous with London Fashion Week arrives on the MAN runway. One of the most eagerly awaited shows of the season, MAN is an initiative that specifically selects young and upcoming British menswear designers to present their works alongside the iconic names of British fashion. The three golden boys this year are Bobby Abley, Alan Taylor and Craig Green. 25-year-old Abley boldly turns the wonder of Disney into a distinctly adult outing by adding a sinister touch displayed through Maleficentesque headgear and the use of an arresting silver mouthpiece. Taylor, on the other hand, toys with collages and cutouts that serve to successfully elevate tweeds to a “contemporary fabric” status. Finally, Green, an already revered young talent, explores the masculine dressing of oriental culture combined with kaleidoscopic prints that were worked manually inside his workshop. Among the group of young designers showcasing irrepressible talent and potential, Green is most definitely at the forefront. His first solo runway for spring/summer 2015 gains rave reviews, being called “the most memorable” and “the turning point of menswear.” He reminds us of J.W.Anderson’s breakthrough several seasons ago, solidifying London as a birthplace of fashion’s next generation.
Text Gabriela Yosefina
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