lon­don

AS IT EM­BRACES QUIRK­I­NESS AND PRAG­MA­TISM WITH EQUAL ZEAL, LC:M SHOW­CASES ONCE AGAIN HOW LON­DON IS A CITY OF STARK CON­TRASTS

DA MAN - Style - - Contents -

Glanc­ing at all of the world’s fore­most fash­ion cap­i­tals, some­times you can’t help but pic­ture Lon­don as the san­est of them all. Paris has “artsy” writ­ten all over it, as does Mi­lan. New York, be­ing The City That Never Sleeps and all that, is burst­ing at the seams with un­bri­dled cre­ativ­ity spurred by its cul­tural (and fi­nan­cial) riches. But Lon­don, well, Lon­don has al­ways ex­isted in the col­lec­tive con­scious­ness of hu­man­ity as that great city of gray skies and gray suits; of grim weather and an even grim­mer sen­si­bil­ity per­me­at­ing ev­ery­thing from its pol­i­tics to the way a gen­tle­man dresses in pub­lic.

Time and again, how­ever, the Lon­don Col­lec­tions: Men events (aka Men’s Fash­ion Week Lon­don) have shown that, while the av­er­age (or per­haps the stereo­typ­i­cal) Lon­doner might be a tad stuffy when it comes to pick­ing what to wear, the city’s fash­ion de­sign­ers that cater to them can be just as quirky, novel and ex­u­ber­ant as their coun­ter­parts in Paris, Mi­lan, New York and be­yond.

There has al­ways been a sense of un­pre­dictabil­ity in ev­ery Lon­don Col­lec­tions: Men show. Some, jus­ti­fi­ably, see this as a lack of con­sis­tency. At the same time, oth­ers feel that it adds the thrill of dis­cov­ery to the sim­ple act of watch­ing the show un­fold, sea­son af­ter sea­son. Un­sur­pris­ingly, the lat­ter group will not be dis­ap­pointed by the fall/win­ter ’16/’17 edi­tion of Lon­don Col­lec­tions: Men, while the for­mer will un­doubt­edly find quite a few stylish treats to feast their eyes on.

One of the early thrills of the week came from MAN, the menswear tal­ent in­cu­ba­tor ini­ti­ated by Lulu Kennedy’s Fash­ion East and high-street chain Top­man, that has pro­duced suc­cess sto­ries with the likes of Craig Green and Jonathan An­der­son. Three up-and- com­ing de­sign­ers rep­re­sented the ini­tia­tive with three shock­ing line­ups.

Mod­els show­cas­ing the works of Charles Jef­frey looked, in a word, messy, with glar­ing make-up and paint-splat­tered jeans. But it was pri­mar­ily a show of con­trasts, as the ju­bi­lant mess was nicely bal­anced by su­perb tai­lor­ing, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to the knitwear. Then there’s Grace Wales Bon­ner, who— quite fit­tingly—show­cased el­e­gance and calm­ness with a col­lec­tion cen­tered around “black spir­i­tu­al­ity.” Her de­signs were stream­lined yet ex­trav­a­gant, from sleek high-but­toned dou­ble-breasted suits to stream­lined sports­wear pieces that wouldn’t be out of place at an up­scale re­cep­tion.

The third MAN, Rory Par­nell-Mooney, found his own con­trast in the ten­sion be­tween the church (he is Ir­ish, af­ter all) and the an­ar­chy of youth. This theme man­i­fested it­self in long-sleeved shirts tucked un­der jack­ets that in­voked the im­age of brood­ing stu­dents in a Catholic school as well as loose hood­ies clearly mod­eled af­ter monas­tic robes.

New di­rec­tions are also the or­der of the day (or the week, in this case) for Lon­don’s more es­tab­lished fash­ion houses. Burberry—which, in case you missed the news, has now merged all of its lines un­der a sin­gle ban­ner—was all about outer­wear. Great­coats, top­coats, parkas, bombers—you name it, Christopher Bai­ley has it on the run­way. While it’s ob­vi­ously nat­u­ral to see plenty of outer­wear at a fall fash­ion show, the ever-present track top and sneak­ers gave the whole af­fair a com­pletely unique feel. This is def­i­nitely a far cry from Burberry’s last LC:M out­ing, which ev­ery­body prob­a­bly re­mem­bered for its abun­dance of lace in all its fem­i­nine glory.

If any­body’s go­ing to remember this Burberry show, how­ever, it’s prob­a­bly thanks in a large part to its trib­ute to David Bowie. It was, af­ter all, one of the first ma­jor run­way shows af­ter news broke out of the mu­si­cian’s pass­ing. Bowie’s songs were played be­fore and af­ter the show, and the mod­els walk­ing that day all car­ried a sprin­kling of star­dust.

Still, other de­sign­ers man­aged to stand out on more com­mon themes. Sib­ling, for in­stance, came out strong with ex­u­ber­ant boxing-in­spired of­fer­ings. This col­lec­tion, how­ever, proved a bit too ex­u­ber­ant for many. In the end, it was KTZ who re­ally hit it out of the park with sports­wear. Now, while us­ing base­ball slang in a piece about Lon­don might be a bit of a trav­esty; KTZ’s show was most def­i­nitely Amer­i­can. Col­le­giate jack­ets and base­ball pants dom­i­nated through­out, with caps and bulky pro­tec­tive head­gear (the kind used by catch­ers in base­ball) thrown in

lib­er­ally across many looks with a hint of ’80s retro. Still, some of the last few looks had mod­els draped in the Union Jack (al­beit with black in­stead of blue), so you can prob­a­bly say that it’s still quite Bri­tish.

Amid all the ex­cite­ment of themed col­lec­tions and ex­u­ber­ant cre­ations, hav­ing some­thing more down to earth can come as a breath of fresh air. And that’s ex­actly what Oliver Spencer’s show brought to LC:M fall/win­ter ’16/’17. If any­thing, this is a de­signer known for im­mac­u­late pro­por­tion­ing; and he show­cased this mas­tery by se­lect­ing a very di­verse group of mod­els, rep­re­sent­ing a broad range of eth­nic­i­ties, age groups and—per­haps most im­por­tantly—body shapes.

The end re­sult is a run­way show that was sur­pris­ingly re­lat­able to even the most ca­sual ob­server. And in hind­sight, this is also a very smart move as at­ten­tion is di­verted from the mod­els to the clothes. The lat­ter was com­prised mainly of knit­ted and suede tops in a pal­ette dom­i­nated by navy and gray then bright­ened with burnt orange and pa­prika hues. It was all very prag­matic, very mas­cu­line in a day-to- day sense and very much the kind of cloth­ing that most men would ac­tu­ally go out and buy.

Com­pared to its older sib­lings in Paris and Mi­lan, along with the new­comer in New York, Lon­don’s bi-an­nual fash­ion week for men is per­haps like a quirky teen fi­nally find­ing his own tune. Per­haps Christopher Bai­ley said it best: “It’s about stand­ing for some­thing and be­ing proud of who you are, say­ing that this is your per­son­al­ity, with ev­ery­thing work­ing to­gether in a world that’s chang­ing quite dra­mat­i­cally.” Sure, he was talk­ing about his work for Burberry at the time, but it’s def­i­nitely not too much of a stretch to say that this goes for the en­tire LC:M ex­pe­ri­ence this sea­son.

“IF ANY­BODY’S GO­ING TO REMEMBER THIS BURBERRY SHOW, HOW­EVER, IT’S PROB­A­BLY THANKS IN A LARGE PART TO ITS TRIB­UTE TO DAVID BOWIE” sports­wear-in­spired getups by MAN’s grace Wales Bon­ner and kTz Op­po­site Burberry’s show was all about outer­wear; oliver spencer fo­cuses on wear­a­bil­ity; sib­ling cel­e­brates the art of boxing

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