SA­FARI DAYS

THE SEV­ENTH LON­DON COL­LEC­TIONS: MEN MAKES THE BEST OF ITS EX­TRA DAY TO BRING US A VER­I­TA­BLE SMOR­GAS­BORD OF EX­CIT­ING THEMES

DA MAN - Style - - Report -

Lon­don has never re­ally trailed be­hind the other fash­ion cap­i­tals of the world in terms of rel­e­vance, but Lon­don Col­lec­tions: Men sure does a good job of play­ing catch-up with Paris, Mi­lan and New York. As of its lat­est spring/sum­mer show, LC:M has per­ma­nently ex­panded its sched­ule to four days, al­low­ing even more new play­ers to jos­tle for po­si­tion with the city’s more es­tab­lished fash­ion houses. Coach was one of the former. But be­fore we delve into the New York brand’s first foray in LC:M, why don’t we step back a bit to the start of the big week?

Open­ing LC:M’s spring/sum­mer show was Top­man Design, which did so with­out even a sin­gle pair of skinny jeans in sight but with plenty of youth cul­ture ref­er­ences taken from a mem­o­rable part of the coun­try’s past. One prom­i­nent in­flu­encer was Bri­tain’s north­ern soul, a mu­sic and dance move­ment from the ’70s which later on grew its own as­so­ci­ated fash­ion iden­tity based on clas­sic mod style. As such, Top­man’s run­way show in­cluded a lot of vests, patched jack­ets and wide-legged trousers—the lat­ter two were es­pe­cially suited for a life on the dance floor.

There were, of course, other cul­tural ref­er­ences in play. From across the pond, clas­sic New York punk style con­trib­uted stud­ded den­ims, and there was a pal­pa­ble ’80s feel em­a­nat­ing from the ca­sual color pal­ettes on the cat­walk. The big ques­tion, how­ever, is whether design di­rec­tor Gor­don Richard­son’s patch­work ap­proach can ap­peal to the youth of to­day—who weren’t even born when north­ern soul and its con­tem­po­raries were at their peak. Still, wide-leggged trousers may yet find a new niche in 2016, just like they did in the roar­ing seven­ties.

Also no­table on day one: Christo­pher Shan­non’s foam party-in­spired run­way show And then there was Coach... Yes, Coach, the New York la­bel famed for its leather goods, made its fash­ion de­but at the sec­ond day of LC:M spring/sum­mer 2016. For this his­toric move, de­signer Stu­art Vev­ers pre­sented a col­lec­tion that spans the en­tirety of Amer­i­can street cul­ture, from east to west—from Cal­i­for­nia’s surf­ing scene to Wood­stock and New York’s very own hip-hop scene. And just so no­body missed the ob­vi­ous “street” cred of the brand, the set for Coach’s show fea­tured a se­ries of wooden skate ramps and saw English rap­per Tinie Tempah take a front-row seat.

It would seem that Vev­ers also caught the gen­der­bend­ing bug; although in­stead of send­ing out boys sport­ing wom­enswear, he opted for fe­male mod­els—such as New York-based Binx Wal­ton—in men’s clothes. The over­all ef­fect is one of classy ef­fort­less­ness, of some­thing that any­body can eas­ily ap­pre­ci­ate and maybe even con­sider for pur­chase for their own sum­mer en­sem­ble.

A lit­tle less easy to pick up but no less charm­ing is the rest of the col­lec­tion fea­tur­ing but­ton-up shirts with psy­che­delic pat­terns taken straight from the ’70s to coats and dou­ble-breasted suits with touches of an­i­mal print in a rain­bow of col­ors. Still, there is no mis­tak­ing the per­fec­tion and tai­lored de­tails that went into those pieces. Also worth point­ing out are the patch­works on the var­i­ous jack­ets which, along with the rest of the ac­ces­sories on dis­play, high­lighted Coach’s trade­mark leather­work­ing.

Also no­table on day two: Pa­ja­mas, fur and starry makeup at Agi & Sam’s show Day num­ber three saw another big change in a fash­ion la­bel. This time, it was J.W. An­der­son’s turn. Now, the North­ern Irish de­signer was one of the first ex­po­nents of an­drog­yny in men’s fash­ion, way be­fore it be­came the pre­vail­ing trend it is to­day. And sure enough, this theme re­turned in force for spring/sum­mer 2016. But while his an­drog­y­nous of­fer­ings in the past were mem­o­rable for their shock value (the corsets on male mod­els from two years ago comes to mind) this time around he went for a gen­tler vibe. An­der­son’s col­lec­tion fea­tured mostly rounded and soft­ened shapes. Out­er­wear pieces in­spired by ad­ven­tures in outer space were bal­anced out by del­i­cate translu­cent tops and an in­trigu­ing

ac­ces­sories, in­clud­ing buck­led high heels which eas­ily be­came the most gen­der- de­fy­ing part of the show.

There was still one more change from J.W. An­der­son this sea­son—a sub­tler one. Ba­si­cally, the col­lec­tion made heavy use of high- end ma­te­ri­als like raw denim, hand-knit­ted cot­ton and soft leather, thereby putting the la­bel squarely in the lux­ury cat­e­gory.

Also no­table on day three: Henry Hol­land’s menswear de­but.

The fourth and fi­nal day had quite a few note­wor­thy shows and pre­sen­ta­tions; but in what is per­haps best de­scribed as a Lon­don fash­ion week tra­di­tion, Burberry Pror­sum’s turned out to be the most mem­o­rable. The venue and tim­ing couldn’t have been more per­fect: A semi- open air stage in Hyde Park, com­plete with a full or­ches­tra, un­der an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally sunny Lon­don day.

Sur­pris­ingly—and quite fit­tingly— Christo­pher Bai­ley es­chewed bright pat­terns and bold col­ors and in­stead opted for a more muted pal­ette dom­i­nated by green, gray and beige, along with dark blue and mus­tard. This sum­mery sa­fari vibe con­tin­ued in loose cuts (in con­trast with Burberry Pror­sum’s usual slim shapes), sleeve­less shirts and boxy out­er­wear. Speak­ing of which, suits were also scarcely seen on the run­way, re­placed by un­lined jack­ets and coats.

“LC:M HAS PER­MA­NENTLY EX­PANDED ITS SCHED­ULE TO FOUR DAYS, AL­LOW­ING EVEN MORE NEW PLAY­ERS TO JOS­TLE FOR PO­SI­TION”

Ma­te­rial-wise, su­per-light wool, silk and cot­ton—all quite sum­mery—were joined by lace in yet another man­i­fes­ta­tion of the gen­der­less look. In fact, the very first model walk­ing down the cat­walk did so while wear­ing an ivory lace shirt and a lace tie un­der a navy trench coat. Al­to­gether, three out of ev­ery four out­fit in Burberry Pror­sum’s show in­cor­po­rated lace, with looks rang­ing from ca­sual cot­ton lace shirts to more thought­ful com­bi­na­tions such as a green dou­ble-breasted suit worn over a mint lace shirt. It was clear that much of the col­lec­tion had its roots in the sar­to­rial tra­di­tions of Bri­tain’s more priv­i­leged classes, but Bai­ley cer­tainly man­aged to shave off a lot of the more for­mal edges to cre­ate a lineup of cloth­ing items any man can wear.

Look­ing back, Burberry Pror­sum’s ap­proach mir­rored what other de­sign­ers brought to LC:M spring/sum­mer 2016: Ei­ther the ton­ing down of for­mal wear or the re­fine­ment of street style, with both meet­ing some­where in the mid­dle. And it’s hard not to imag­ine that mid-point to be some­thing one would wear on a sa­fari— ca­sual with just a tiny hint of haugh­ti­ness that was oh so very Bri­tish.

Also no­table on day four: Tiger of Swe­den closes the week with its usual pomp and splen­dor.

In a way, it is as if Lon­don’s fash­ion scene has grown in con­fi­dence. Not that the city has ever lacked in self-as­sur­ance, but the ex­tra day and the re­laxed vibe that re­verbed through­out those four days cer­tainly hints at an in­creas­ingly ma­ture fash­ion scene that will con­tinue to charm us in the years to come.

Translu­cent top and buck­led high heels on J.W. Anderson's run­way; Burberry Pror­sum's first look, with lace peek­ing from un­der a navy coat

Fe­male model Binx Walton wear­ing one of Coach's psy­chadelic jack­ets; Tiger of swe­den's show served as the grand fi­nale

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