DAMAN Style Report: London Fashion Week FW 18/19

A VISUAL MASTERPIECE – The menswear designers of London have composed strong collections featuring reflection and an abundance of color, creating a new definition of luxury

Christopher Bailey showcased a nostalgic feels for his final Burberry collection

Of the four world capitals of fashion, Paris has the “luxury powerhouses,” as does Milan. New York, in this sense, is a “city of lights” in its own right. But London—well, London is perhaps the most expressive of them all. And at the forefront of this city’s sartorial story is London Fashion Week Men, which for this season offers an astounding range.

Christopher Ræburn, for instance, came out with a deep dive into the big blue. Inspired by the beauty and fragility of the oceans, his collection was aptly named “Immerse” and stands as a call for responsible design and sourcing to protect both the planet and the wearer. Of course, Ræburn is no stranger to these ideas, having established his eponymous brand with sustainability in mind and a focus on the reworking of surplus fabrics and garments to create distinctive and functional pieces. On a more practical note, the collection was filled with layering, comfort, protection and warmth.

A remade immersion coat from Christopher Ræburn

The pieces that stole the spotlight included an intarsia sweater, gray coats made from blankets and the orange Neoprene coats that came with matching gloves. Furthermore, Ræburn also introduced a collaboration with surf brand Finisterre. With helicopter jackets with strong military roots and comforting puffers, the pieces beautifully showcased Finisterre’s approach to fabric development that merged extremely well with Ræburn’s complementary ethos and signature detailing.

Meanwhile, Liam Hodges took a different path with a childhood reference to ’90s TV shows and musicals. The past is a destination often visited and Liam Hodges returned with a throwback to youthful pleasures, mixing and matching Ian Dury, New Wave, and Blockhead that combined the likes of polka dots from Mr. Blobby along with other cartoon graphics.

Playful prints from Liam Hodges

Each outfit from the collection can be worked on dance floors, in the park, on street corners or perhaps even in a pub. A particularly noteworthy piece was the combined checked flannel at the front and nylon at the back with zipped cuffs, which had the brand work with two regular finishes to create something extraordinary. Shearling jackets, meanwhile, were adorned with smiley faces and an oversized doublebreasted suit was covered in badges. With this collection, Hodges proved that quality handwork doesn’t have to mean old vibes, as emphasized by selected denim pieces and shirts featuring coloring book graphics airbrushed by hand.

A similar approach was taken by Belstaff. The British brand also delved into its own history for its celebratory fall/winter collection. As it happens, 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the brand’s iconic four-pocket Trialmaster jacket, which was originally designed to protect against the harsh weather during the Scottish Six Day Trials. “I started looking at youth movements since the 1950s, referencing the vitality and energy of sub-cultures such as the mods, punks, rockers and skins, who all in very different ways sought to express an inter-generational clash though music and fashion,” explained Delphine Ninous, Belstaff’s creative director. “As I discovered through the archive, many were wearing our iconic jackets and customizing them. This season these themes are played out in our iconic silhouettes such as the field jacket, parka, biker and bomber. We wanted to celebrate our heritage but also shine a light on our spirit of innovation whilst remaining modern and looking to our future.”

Belstaff puts a big focus on outerwear

Through this legacy, Ninous has been able to introduce the jacket’s evolution for today through the new collection, celebrating the four-pocket silhouette, now enhanced by the most innovative technology and protective fabrics. She took the Trialmaster and injected it with a vintage edge and faded patches for some of the jackets, plus another vintage leather bomber style with painted sleeves and a new tumbled coated cotton with reflective stripes and badges. On top of that, Bellstaff also launched a new heat mapping technology—a first for the brand—engineered to meet the precise requirements of the body in motion with built-in thermoregulation. With this kind of collection, Ninous showed that the brand’s British roots is still very much relatable and will suit today’s modern adventurer.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Burberry’s Christopher Bailey also took a look back to the brand’s archives form the ’60s to the ’90s and gave everybody a show to remember. “My final collection here at Burberry is dedicated to—and in support of—some of the best and brightest organizations supporting LGBTQ youth around the world,” Bailey elaborated. “There has never been a more important time to say that in our diversity lies our strength, and our creativity.”

A rainbow of colors from Burberry

Bailey, who has been with Burberry since 2001 and who had served as chief creative officer and CEO from 2014 until July 2017, was leaving Britain’s largest luxury fashion brand. For his swan song with Burberry, he showcased oversize zip-front jackets and some of his greatest hits, including ponchos, shearling aviator jackets, capes and military great coats. Furthermore, he also created a capsule collection of reissued pieces from the ’80s and ’90s that went on sale immediately after the show (the “see now, buy now” approach) and is selling its Rainbow Check collection, part of an initiative to support charities, in its own store. On top of all that, two moments are remembered even today as show-stealers of the season: A long rainbow patchwork cape with check lining modeled by Cara Delevingne at the end of the show and Bailey’s final bow to the audience.

Christopher Bailey’s final menswear collection for Burberry pretty much sums up this fall/winter season in London: The foundation of a modern man’s wardrobe is re-emphasized and refined in a myriad of colors and a throwback to old-school fashion elements, which are then remade into a modern image. As each show weaved together a story for all the senses, a pattern emerges softly on the horizon with a new definition of luxury as both practical and also precious.