Having firmly re-established itself the biker jacket is still around this season and in its best incarnations is being pared back to the essentials of its rebellious roots. Perhaps more than any fashion item since blue jeans, the functional origins of the biker have been usurped by its countercultural resonance as a symbol of rebellious attitude. After all, Joey Ramone didn’t shrug on his trusty leather biker out of concern about protection: it was a statement of intent. Having been given a fashion spin in endless fabric variations in recent seasons including contrast sleeves, the freshest looking biker jackets right now involve premium black leather, sturdy, heavy-weight zips and the classic shape without any fuss. Which is exactly what this collaboration between Swedish label CMMN SWDN and iconic Copenhagen store Storm delivers in this limited edition jacket. On the outside, the design lets the high grain leather, minimal styling and impressive hardware do the talking which leaves only the lining to raise the volume. Available at Storm now.
This morning Opening Ceremony’s latest outpost opened it’s doors at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. British designer Max Lamb has transformed the diminutive shop space, lining the walls in ivory latex, the sinuous folds emphasising the height of the interior, and furnishing the boutique with floating blue metal rails and a centerpiece table hewn from natural rock. This painterly colour scheme offsets Opening Ceremony’s current Surrealist-inspired collection perfectly, as Birkenstock clogs daubed with the work of Rene Magritte sit prettily on a block of rough polystyrene, itself sealed with a rubbery, peachy-coloured paint. There is an obvious visual synergy between Max Lamb’s work here and Opening Ceremony’s love of the unexpected, the purely playful and their mutual desire to create something unique. With collections touching on some of London’s most exciting new talent like Marques Almeida and Nicomede Talavera, the Opening Ceremony team aren’t just tapping the pulse of the city here, its more a case of full on acupressure and this permanent, multi-brand space is way beyond the notion of pop-up.
Opening Ceremony’s Shoreditch is located at 106 Shoreditch High Street, and is open 12-7pm daily.
All images below are by Jamie McGregor Smith except the final which is my own.
With all the emphasis on London, Milan and Paris in fashion, as with the current round of menswear shows, its not surprising that some of Europe’s lesser-known fashion spots are often overlooked even outside of fashion weeks. On a recent trip to Warsaw however, the Polish capital’s fashion scene was revealed to me, and I left the city very impressed with its sense of style.
From bespoke tailoring houses like Zaremba (which remained a favourite during the Communist era by stashing outlawed “bourgeois” fabrics for clients, thus circumventing state-dictated outlets), to newly graduated fashion talent and more established independent designers, Warsaw has a surprising diversity of fashion both old and new.My visit coincided with the graduation of Warsaw Art Academy’s first ever Fashion Diploma students, a talented bunch including womenswear designer Kasia Skórzyńska, whose vivid prints, inspired by the films of Wong Kar Wai, showed accomplishment and international appeal (in fact, she’s already interned with London designer Richard Nicoll and has shown in Beijing). Also in early June, outside of any official week or season, national fashion hero designer Robert Kupisz drew an impressive crowd to a vast warehouse space across the river from the city centre, the majority of whom had also responded to the dress code he had issued: denim. A soundtrack of classic English punk referred to the designer’s own youth and the stirrings of the Polish uprising. Deliberately commercial and relaxed in style, the soft denims and especially the oversized flannel shirts push Kupisz’s design into more high fashion territory through tactile fabric treatments and proportion.
Another of Warsaw’s most established designers is Ania Kuczynska whose beautiful boutique at Mokotowska features minimal though supremely elegant designs for men and women, accessories (including a unisex best-selling bag inspired by a trip to Shanghai, over 3,000 of which were sold last year) and housewares. Kuczynska’s aesthetic is very distinctive with her design signature, revealing often mystical yet subtle inspirations, evident whether you are looking at a beautifully draped shirt or pair of trousers, a simple bag or a gorgeous ceramic plate.
Some of the most covetable designs I encountered were by Mariusz Przybylski, a designer with an appealing minimal aesthetic offering clothes at Zara-level price points but designed by the man himself and produced in Poland (in a factory known for producing for brands such as Burberry), beautifully cut and using high-quality materials. His pared back separates for men and women (this season’s menswear included light wool/moleskin cotton biker jackets, chunky cotton knits and texturised sweatshirts and joggers) is best experienced at his boutique, located in one of the chicest neighborhoods in Warsaw to stroll in.
As with many cities, Warsaw’s fashion community forms a branch of its wider artistic network; many of the graduate designers cited films as their main inspiration and the overlap of the visual arts with fashion within Warsaw is obvious with many options for seeing film and art. While I was there The Zachęta National Gallery of Art had an exhibition of work by legendary Polish graphic designer and poster artist Henryk Tomaszewski whose designs have featured in menswear by Comme des Garcons.
If you find yourself on a weekend break in Warsaw, besides eating outdoors at one of the city’s outside eating spots (residents are well provided for, given the city’s long hot summers) I recommend checking out the city’s fashion boutiques and independent stores. You may not yet associate Warsaw with fashion but there is a sense of growing excitement within the city about this aspect of design, building on the city’s history of producing fine artists and filmmakers.
There’s a lot to be distracted about at a Sibling show. If its not the foot stomping soundtrack there’s the smorgasbord of models (and the hottest models at LC:M always seem to do the Sibling show), a front row full of fashion legends and the wild styling and sense of theatrics which altogether create a visual spectacle perfectly pitched for Instagram sensation. This season sky-high hair, fringing and the general intent to provoke and push taste boundaries created more noise than ever. Beneath the spectacle however are some fine fashion details, as you’d expect from the trio with their collective fashion heritage. This season for me it was the footwear and the denims that invited a closer look. For SS15 Sibling have worked with Robert Clergerie Homme, the venerable label now under the helm of Roland Mouret and the result is an interpretation of the classic Delbie boot in both black and natural canvas. Sibling SS15 is all about youth tribes and the canvas boots perfectly complimented the denim pieces with their geometric punctures, the crocheted track suits and skull motifs. At once summer-ready and rebel-friendly the use of canvas is a great touch making them appear very versatile while the leather toe caps on the boots instantly suggest high-end. With this collaboration and another season of great denim pieces, Sibling are proving they have a lot more to offer than knitwear while retaining their reputation for the most
fun to be had at LC:M.
London Collections: Men ended last night in buoyant mood as the capital’s menswear industry rides high on a wave of seemingly ever-growing interest in men’s fashion. The London menswear showcase is now firmly on the map for American and Asian buyers visiting on their way to the European shows and there was more to see than ever and more people here to see it. I posted my initial impressions at the start of the week over on my Guardian page, but here are my thoughts from the remaining 2 days.
On Monday evening Richard Nicoll showed his trademark simple unfussy separates in refreshing whites, gingham check and with clashing patterns in red, yellow and blue colourways. Classic low profile Adidas lace-ups were accessorised by the inimitable Judy Blame. In fact styling was often a highlight of the week in itself: the beautiful floral garlands off-setting Matthew Miller’s pinstripe collection being another example (as mentioned on Monday), and Luke Day’s masterly tweaking of the James Long collection into colorful, beribboned perfection.
A spirit of adventure was evident across many shows; Kit Neale’s presentation took to the air with prints including airline safety info graphics on a set made to look like a (literal) runway.
Shaun Samson’s boy scouts at the Fashion East installations wore signature colour-blocked wool shorts and oversized T-shirts reminiscent of American heritage blankets, complete with matching camp beds and pillows.
This embracing of the great outdoors was also present at E.Tautz, in a collection celebrating the British seaside. Designer Patrick Grant presented clothes for men for all seasons, from light raincoats to voluminous shorts, deckchair stripes and oversized denims. While the denim and shorts suggested the proportions of more elegant eras as opposed to the recent insistence on skinny, the approach was thoroughly modern rather than nostalgic.
Baartmans and Siegel’s collection on Tuesday also had something of the scouting adventurer about it, with light practical jackets and shorts suits in navy and deep forest green.
Wrapping up this theme, Burberry took the notion of adventure one step further in a collection inspired by Bruce Chatwin’s travel writing.
One of the key things that separates London from its rivals in Florence, Paris and Milan is its strong countercultural heritage, particularly in the fields of art and popular music. A menswear season here never goes by without a head nod to one musical subculture, youth cult or another; and at times it felt like they were all being referenced at once this season. Of note for particular rock and roll swagger were Casely-Hayford who once again presented sharp tailoring with streetwear references and Sir Tom Baker’s show at The 100 Club (Adam Ant and John Cooper Clarke performed afterwards).
On a different level was Sibling’s rollicking, high-energy show on Tuesday morning, one of the most anticipated shows each season. The Sibling collection was inspired by youth cults and the camaraderie of finding like minds and alternative family as a young clubber. Beneath the wild gothic fringing and Sigue Sigue Sputnik hair were some solid denim pieces; classic denim jackets and jeans with artfully distressed details, delicate lace panels within the knitwear and some very desirable boots (a collaboration with Robert Clergerie Homme by Roland Mouret) were sent stomping down the runway.
Sportswear continues to be a huge influence in London menswear, and not only from those designers who make it a staple (Christopher Shannon, Lou Dalton, Nasir Mazhar and Astrid Andersen being examples). At Paul Smith’s presentation of shoes at the Hauser & Wirth gallery on Savile Row, a selection featured sports mesh paneling, intersecting the contours of traditional men’s Oxford shoes.
Besides these gung-ho themes of adventure and rebellion there also examples of introspection in the collections over the last two days; J.W. Anderson featured bucolic landscape tapestries on oversized T-shirts and Craig Green sent his collection, featuring soft pastel blues and quilting reminiscent of Samurai padding, down the runway to the lilting strains of no less than Enya.
Last week I caught up with menswear designer Kit Neale in his studio. Originally known for his prints, as a designer Kit’s range is becoming known for perfectly proportioned casual wear such as jean jackets and bombers, and last season brought surprise in the form of beautiful jacquard fabrics alongside the signature prints. I was looking forward to seeing what Kit has in store for us in SS15.
Moving on from explorations of London’s less celebrated quarters (Autumn/Winter was inspired by the decaying Elephant & Castle shopping centre) next summer stretches those horizons slightly, “it’s Kit Neale goes on holiday” Kit explained, “I got sick of people asking what part of London we were going to do next” he added, “…Waterloo?” Central to the Kit Neale aesthetic is a strong sense of Britishness, complete with our famous sense of humour. Whether the motifs come from formica caffs, fishy seaside menus or vegetables from his dad’s allotment, the Kit Neale brand has a strong sense of place and identity. Therefore, the Kit Neale version of foreign travel has more of an air of Carry On Abroad about it than the swish of luxury travel. Think sunburned Brits abroad and the rituals of budget airline travel. What is unique about Kit’s work however, is that the underlying humour does nothing to diminish the quality of the clothes: the fabrics and construction are always impressive and tactile and the characters involved always tell a great narrative. Inspired this time by some frankly weird waxy figures depicting archetypal holidaymakers (picked up in a Brooklyn flea market), SS15′s story may have moved on from South London but remains essentially Kit Neale.
Kit Neale SS15 will be presented later this morning, however, here is a sneak glimpse of some of the inspirations and moodboards for this collection.