Beautifully Diverse – Compared to the rest of fashion capitals in the world, London’s fashion scene is one of the most vibrant and diverse globally. Case in point: This spring/summer of London Fashion Week and London Fashion Week Men’s—or LFWM to be precise—has showcased the length and breadth of the British menswear market. Considered as a melting pot for creativity and innovation, LFW and LFWM brings together an international audience to shine a light on the talent from the city through catwalk shows, event activations, pop up shops and performances, alongside previews of collections from international design houses and award winning British designers.
Of particular note, for this year’s spring/summer season, one of the biggest story were coming from London Fashion Week, when everyone wants to see Riccardo Tisci’s first collection for Burberry. Special for his debut collection, in front of an audience of creative industry, friends and family, the spring/summer 2019 collection for both men and women, titled “Kingdom,” was unveiled at a new show venue in Vauxhall, South West London.
As a nod to the new era, when the first model took to the runway—with an exclusively designed soundtrack by Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack—the previously dark space was flooded with light, symbolizing a new chapter for the fashion house. Aside to that, British materials and textures including concrete, mahogany wood and critter glass transformed the interior with moving walls in tonal brand colors also forming small intimate view points for the audience.
Tisci presented his debut collection for Burberry with a show that paid homage to the individuality, eccentricity and inimitable attitude of Britain. “The thing that excites me the most about Burberry is it appeals to everyone no matter their age,” explains Tisci. “When I was thinking about my first campaign here, I knew I wanted to work with a collection of collaborators to help interpret the breadth of what this incredible heritage house represents to so many different people, from the millennial to the mature, to the British and to the international.”
Capturing the breadth of what British culture represents today, the collection defines the visual language and lexicon for Burberry through new house codes and accessories. Special for men, Tisci juxtaposed elegant tailoring including the new English-fit suit, inspired by Savile Row, with youthful and boyish proportions, bold patterns and prints. There were pinstriped wool hooded jacket, waistcoat, button-down monogram motif cotton shirt to the usual gabardine coat. The new collection surely celebrates the diversity and also the heart of England—the melting pot of creativity and style traditions from the punk and rebellious, to the formal and refined, all co-existing together.
Meanwhile, moving on to LFWM, a similar approach for “debut” part was taken by Blindness. For this spring/summer, the brand dissect the subject of ‘First Love’ and the incomparable vulnerability of those who experience it. More often than not, to anyone, first love is full of curiosity and confusion, naivety and emotional turmoil, and an ultimate lack of control. Yet reversely, it is something so natural and needs no justification. Kyu Shin & Ji Park—the creative directors behind Blindness—encapsulate these conflicting emotions of love through the juxtaposition of untraditional fabrics, jumping from firm to soft, with a mix of atypical layering.
The result? A romantic sensibilities are seen through exaggerated silhouettes, flowing tulle and hints of opulent costume. The dream-like and fantastical influence of first love is realized through decadent patterns, castle-like ruffles and the brand’s signature use of pearls in accessories; from masks, shoulder to the corset embellishments. With a clear hope to evoke the value of diversity in love, the collection itself has a clear and precise message in its aims to be gender-fluid, cross-cultural and unafraid of self-expression.
Furthermore, still in the realm of gender-fluid, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy also embraces the genderless world through a studies of bodies. For this spring/summer collection, titled “Emergence,” Jeffrey’s presents a serene alternative reality that meets the utopic harmony with a touch of brighter colors and athleisure, which is something not traditionally a part of the brand. On that note, while embracing the insecurities and irrational exaggerations, the collection explores in a tartan mini-kilt, striped knee-high socks and wood-block shoes.
Christopher Raeburn, meanwhile, took a different path with Jeffrey, as he make some changes in order to avoid dystopian future. Dubbed “React Now,” Raeburn’s collection shows that climate change is real. Through some haunting satellite images from NASA, it shows that the reality of the world we’re inhabiting. From receding glaciers to shifting seasons; human are all part of the problem but they’re also all part of the solution. To that end, the collection is a reaction to this particular reality and the need for a layering system to cater for our fluctuating weather, as a protection, on every level, is more important than ever.
On the other end of the spectrum, Liam Hodges looked to Las Vegas by the Donna Tartt novel The Gold Finch. As Vegas sits on the edge of the desert, all in all, the question remains is what’s Hodges’ guy look like in Vegas? “Outdoorsy but not, easy-wear slick trash,” says Hodges. Key items in the collection include leopard print cardigans, waistcoats and shorts, bowling and cowboy shirts with flames, Hawaiian shirts with ash tattoo details, sun-bleached track suiting, plaid all day pajamas, and short shorts. Matching this easy extra everything aesthetic is Hodges’ take on FILA’s midnineties chunky running shoe, the Mindblower, as well as t-shirt and hoodie prints include a centurion chest plate, the legend “Alone Together” inspired by the nuclear testing museum.
In the end, compared to other fashion capitals like Paris, Milan, and New York, London has once again presented its creative best through the diversity. Perhaps Riccardo Tisci said it best: “I was thinking a lot about journeys as I started putting together my first Burberry collection. From my personal journey back to London 20 years after I showed my graduate collection here, to how far I have come. I was also inspired by how much London—the city that made me dream to become a designer, has evolved. This show is a celebration of the cultures, the traditions and the codes of this historic fashion house and of the eclecticism that makes up the beautifully diverse United Kingdom.” Sure, he was talking about his Burberry’s debut at the time, but it’s definitely not too much to say that it sums up of how this spring/summer season became a testament to the beauty of diversity from London.
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