HISTORY IN ITS MANY FORMS
LONDON’S FASHION WEEK HAS BEEN AT THE FOREFRONT OF MODERN FASHION FOR QUITE A WHILE, AND THIS TIME, THEY GO FORWARD WHILE LOOKING BACK THROUGH HISTORY
London, one of the world’s most exciting cultural hubs, has always prided itself on showcasing creativity. From Burberry to Vivienne Westwood, Agi & Sam to Stella McCartney, London’s major fashion houses have been shaping and defining styles and trends for decades. Over the last five years, London Collections: Men—now dubbed London Fashion Week Men’s (LFWM)— changed perceptions by bringing in a new kind of aesthetic.
A long time before LFWM became a main part of the world’s fashion calendar, London has always been characterized by strong looks based on tradition with just a hint of rebelliousness. Now, however, it’s a whole different story as London’s designers express themselves freely by merging contemporary streetwear and the city’s legacy in tailoring.
One of the highlights from this LFWM is the way Alexander McQueen tells its story for the season. The brand’s thinking seems to go: Who needs that hassle of going to a fashion show when you can see the entire collection through imagery?
Through an atmospheric catalogue of pictures— photographed by Ethan James Green¬— Alexander McQueen presented an ode to the one and only Oscar Wilde. The brand’s creative director, Sarah Burton, drew inspiration from Wilde’s dandified style as he journeys from Tite Street to Saint- Germain- des-Prés.
The collection starts with wool coats and threepiece suits in classic British fabrics as a reference to the typical London gent, featuring jacquard-woven peacock feathers and Paisley smoking jackets. The final look of the show showcased a full-length ceremonial cape with a pair of peacocks embroidered in gold thread in tribute to Wilde’s last memories.
It would certainly seem that history is the main inspiration for this LFWM. Christopher Raeburn, for instance, turned to Ellsworth Kelly and his involvement in the historical Ghost Army (a group of artists drafted by the U.S. Army during World War II to create inventive camouflage techniques) for his fall/ winter ’17 collection shown at LFWM.
Raeburn managed to repurpose military fabrics to more fashionable ends and crafted abstract interpretations of this utility staple. Think tracksuits using parachute fabrics and khaki parkas with utility straps crafted from bomb- disposal garments. Furthermore, the collection also included quilted camo, neon knitwear, a heavy knit patchwork sweater and a gray duffel coat embossed with camo patterns.
Much like the previous two brands, Ben Sherman’s fall/winter collection came with a nod to its heritage. Specifically, the brand is celebrating the “spirit of mod.” Inspired by iconic British music legends such as John Lennon and Paul Weller, the collection takes sport influences and combines them with sharp tailoring, then utilizes vintage military surplus garments over classic tailored suits.
Sport jackets and jerseys are worn with smart coats and jackets, while the classic houndstooth pattern was worked into button down shirts and parkas. Mixing smart and casual elements, this theme looks to the functional and timeless style of the Mod subculture, elevating into the contemporary through modern fabrics and colors.
Still, other designers managed to bring out of this throwback movement even further. Belstaff’s newly appointed creative director, Delphine Ninous, injected
“Who needs that hassle of going to a fashion shoW When you can see the entire collection through imagery?”
“it’s important that We as an industry explore neW Ways of shoWing things to our customers”
a healthy dose of Parisian- cool into the British heritage brand for its fall/winter ’17 offerings. Nautical staples are the key this season and are realized through Breton stripes, waterproof parkas and wax jackets—referencing heroic sailors, submariners and the enduring garments created for the Royal Navy during World War II.
Another bit of standout news from the latest fall/ winter LFWM came from Tiger of Sweden. After several showings in London, Tiger of Sweden opted to take a break from the city’s runways and opted instead to showcase its new fall/winter collection by appointment only.
When designing for the fall/winter ’17 season, Tiger of Sweden’s creative director Andreas Gran said that he thought about what makes the suit relevant today. The answer? British tailoring with ’90s references, along with V-neck sweaters, T-shirts, and sneakers in looser silhouettes. Also seen were baggy trousers in dark green, navy, gray as well as black-and-white check patterns, along with double-breasted jackets with sharp shoulders.
This is a clear move away from last season’s prints in favor of darker colors which add depth to the fabrics. The outerwear selections, from satin bomber jackets to an oversized parka, were also quite eyecatching, especially as most were clearly inspired by utility wear as seen from the additional straps.
On a final note, there has been a poignant departure from the usual sense of unpredictability that has been present in LFWM for the past couple of years. This time, the predictability of an overarching theme became proof that history does repeat itself.
Perhaps Christopher Bailey from Burberry said it best: “We’re just testing new ways of doing things. The world is changing dramatically and it’s important that we as an industry explore new ways of showing things to our customers and people that love fashion and design and creativity.” Sure, he was talking about the see-now-buy-now trend that changed the face of the fashion industry; but again, it was a perfect summation of this fall/winter’s LFWM.
left to right alexander mcQueen’s tribute to oscar wilde’s last memories opposite page ben sherman’s “spirit of the mod” look; Tiger of sweden’s british tailoring with ’90s references; Christopher Raeburn’s multilayered gray tracksuits; belstaff’s nautical jacket referencing sailors