THE Ex­pEr­i­mEnt goEs on

As LOn­dOn COL­LeC­tiOns: Men set­tLes dOwn in its fifth yeAr run­ning, new fACes And bOLd sAr­tO­riAL ex­per­i­Ments steAL the spOt­Light frOM the MOre es­tAb­Lished shOwrun­ners

DA MAN - Style - - Report -

With New York as the de facto new­est (of­fi­cial) kid on the in­ter­na­tional fash­ion week scene, it would seem that Lon­don— or Lon­don Col­lec­tions: Men (LC:M), to be ex­act—has re­ally set­tled into its role as a ma­jor fo­cal point in the world of menswear. Be­sides, LC:M is well into its fifth year run­ning and shows no signs of slow­ing down. Still, much like its coun­ter­parts on the main­land or across the pond, the show also felt the sting of ha­tred now per­me­at­ing the globe.

Day three of LC:M spring/sum­mer 2017 be­gan with many at­ten­dants dis­tracted by news of peo­ple be­ing shot at a night­club in Or­lando. Then the day ended as word came out that nearly 50 peo­ple were killed and dozens more in­jured. The show did go on, as it al­ways does. Per­haps it would be pre­sump­tu­ous to as­sume that this was some­how in de­fi­ance of the hor­rors that be­fell that day but, still, Lon­don’s spring/sum­mer 2017 fash­ion week rolled along just fine.

In fact, LC:M spring/sum­mer 2017 had quite a few sur­prises up its sleeves, in­clud­ing some rather un­ex­pected new­com­ers. First among th­ese was Xan­der Zhou, the first de­signer from China to join the sea­sonal show in Lon­don. In fact, his was the open­ing show of LC:M, and what an opener it was. The col­lec­tion is ti­tled Grown-Ups, and was ac­com­pa­nied by key­words in­clud­ing “sex,” “arousal” and “stim­u­late.” Yes, it was far from sub­tle. The mod­els walk­ing that day looked ap­peal­ingly di­sheveled while sport­ing striped boxer shorts, la­tex trench coats and over­sized hood­ies. On the ac­ces­sories side, striped ban­danas ruled the run­way. The over­all ef­fect was that of modern sex­i­ness that was at the same time ag­gres­sive and taste­ful.

An­other new­comer was Phoebe English, which pre­sented a cap­sule col­lec­tion that couldn’t have been more dif­fer­ent from Xan­der Zhou’s: Soft cot­ton jog­gers, min­i­mal­ist coats and elon­gated shirts. The loose sil­hou­ettes and the ex­clu­sive nat­u­ral fab­rics gave the col­lec­tion—which con­sti­tuted the de­signer’s first of­fi­cial menswear pre­sen­ta­tion—a very rus­tic feel. The pieces wouldn’t have looked out of place in a pe­riod drama dur­ing Eng­land’s Tu­dor era. That be­ing said, they also looked ex­tremely com­fort­able and non­cha­lant, while still ap­pear­ing exquisitely fin­ished at closer in­spec­tion.

Go­ing from a pas­toral past to a starry fu­ture, we have KTZ aka Kokon To Zai. Set in an un­der­ground club, the brand pre­sented a col­lec­tion that “looks to the fu­ture and oozes ad­ven­ture.” The fu­tur­is­tic vibe was quite clear, with sci-fi el­e­ments and de­tails rem­i­nis­cent of star maps wo­ven into mono­chrome prints spread across shorts, hood­ies and light coats. The same, alas, could not be said about the ad­ven­tur­ous part, as none of the pieces looked re­ally dif­fer­ent from what KTZ has been of­fer­ing sea­son af­ter sea­son. Well, out­side of the leather har­nesses and oc­ca­sional gimp mask, that is. And dark, dimly-lit venues aren’t ex­actly great at let­ting a monochro­matic—and pre­dom­i­nantly dark— col­lec­tion shine. Still, the show did man­age to high­light how male sex­u­al­ity can be in­ter­wo­ven into a fash­ion col­lec­tion in a man­ner that is both sen­su­ally shock­ing and at the same time taste­ful.

The spirit of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion was cer­tainly alive and well at MAN, the tal­ent in­cu­ba­tor run by Top­man and Fash­ion East. As usual, three di­rec­tors show­cased their cre­ations un­der the brand. First up was Per Götes­son, a no­table grad­u­ate from the Royal Col­lege of Arts. His run­way was dom­i­nated by denim in huge, over­sized pieces. It was as if Götes­son, who is no­tably tall, de­signed the pieces for him­self, but then had nor­mal-sized mod­els show­case them in a charm­ing play of pro­por­tions. It would cer­tainly pique the in­ter­est of any­one who has al­ways strug­gled with look­ing for the right-sized pants.

The sec­ond MAN de­signer at LC:M spring/sum­mer 2017 was Feng Chen Wang, who was in­tro­duced as an artist who “uses cloth­ing as a metaphor.” It’s hard to guess what mes­sage she was try­ing to get across, but the pieces shown on stage are per­haps not the kind that one would lit­er­ally wear on the streets. Treated cot­ton and ny­lon were the main in­gre­di­ents of the col­lec­tion, with ny­lon cords tied at awk­ward places to cre­ate non-func­tional joints. Still, it was an in­trigu­ing dis­play of what an aes­thet­i­cally-minded de­signer could do with tech­ni­cal fab­rics.

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