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Describing the experience of a (good) fashion show to non-fashion friends I often liken it to the moment the lights dim before an amazing music talent hits the stage, or the moment a great DJ takes over the decks, with the sensation of the raising of the hairs on the back of your neck and that simultaneous warm flush from chest to cheekbone. And of course designers are conscious of this simile and fashion shows are often half about the music.

Photos from fashion shows also tell some great stories, not always intentional. One of the outcomes of digital photography is the incredible detail in which the totality of a scene is captured, most of which you were probably unaware of at the time, in the struggle to photograph, Tweet, look and/or all of these at the same time, whilst trying to stay in the moment and think about what you might say about it afterwards.

Quite often, aside from what is going on on the runway, there’s the story of what is captured of the audience, which can mean fashion editors looking bored, yawns, sideways glances, eyes looking everywhere but at the clothes. But there are also moments of drama, as newly emerging talent is revealed and all eyes are locked onto the passing show.

And this was definitely the case at the MAN show, surely the one show, aside from the incredible Meadham Kirchoff experience, which got everyone talking. This was definitely an example of the hairs on back of neck reaction I started off by describing.

It’s a little late for a show report, but in reviewing my photos from the event I was struck again by how brilliant all three collections were, and wanted to share highlights of what I’ve been re-experiencing here.

1. Astrid Andersen

With Faithless blasting out at full volume, Astrid Andersen’s collection immediately got the adrenalin pumping. Astrid’s collections has generated fewer column inches than the other two design houses showing at MAN, but the collection was certainly accomplished, and the touch of Simon Foxton as stylist was evident, especially in the hyper-male, oiled torsos revealed by Astrid’s designs. Presenting one of the strongest colour palettes of the weekend, I thought that Astrid actually nailed a very high-end approach to sportswear. If only the Olympics were set to be this stylish.

Barefoot models, in lightweight hi tech sport fabrics and sheers gave a sense of intense physicality.

Bumbags were the accessory of choice.

Lines were elongated and colours layered or, as here, in panels.

Neon lace gave a surprising lift to an otherwise earthy palette.

2. Agi and Sam

One of the big names of menswear week(end) were Agi and Sam and it’s testament to them how many smiling faces I noticed whilst reviewing the photos. And I’d like to think that the smiles were an expression of “Yes!, they’re even better than we’d hoped” – as well as a reaction to the humour in the content of their collection. Styled with genius by Julian Ganio, a collection of pastel prints, worn by men wearing improbable mustaches somehow garnered the approval, affection and amusement of a whole audience. Smiles all around.

A delicate floral print in an incredibly wearable blouson and in a perfect blue.

The raincoat over shorts look is already looking very seminal, and quite practical for an English summer.

My favourite look from the collection, pattern over pattern and the best raincoat of all.

And seen in reverse, the unexpected colour and print are astounding!

This look really brings out the genius of those collaborative socks with Tabio.

Another paintbrush-print and an example of the brilliant casting.

3. Shaun Samson

In some respects Shaun Samson had a tough job coming third in line but his collection was probably the most resolved of them all. More genius styling, this time by Matthew Josephs (who I spotted the next day at Fashion East wearing pieces from the collection and looking very fly with it). The collection of haute LA gang wear bore all the hallmarks of Shaun’s West Coast heritage, curiously prevalent across all the collections that weekend (see Topman Design for more West Coast influences), but with the designer’s usual talent for the unexpected. Shaun’s trademark oversized T-shirt appeared as a more subtle (i.e. than recent Native American blanket designs ) but still dramatic check. Checked shirts and sheer long sleeved t-shirts tied around waists played with suggestions of skirt, and long, extended shirt hems created a loose, flowing skirt/apron/bumflap layer. Overall, the outline was long, loose and the feel grungy but the metallic details on the back of sports shirts, T-shirts featuring pierced kittens and, most strikingly the amazing final look of spangly basketball shorts and sparkly pool sliders suggested a very precise vision.  Shaun Samson shares with fellow West Coaster Rick Owens the ability to downplay outlandish shapes through understated colours, fabrication and the general attitude with which they are intended to be worn.

A lot has been said about the shorts and sandals look at the shows, especially by the New York Times who seem to consider it almost a national conspiracy, but none were more fetching than Shaun’s closing look of sequinned pool sliders (on later inspection these look more like massed press studs than sequins) worn with some incredible spangly basketball shorts.

Mr Tommy Ton is liking those spangly pool sliders.

A sideways view gives a better impression of that extended hem/apron over long board shorts in that flowing check.

Again, the exaggerated shirt hem over long shorts. And here, the lurex sweater echoes the metal details on beanie and ear piercings.

Loose knitwear over more extended hems and shorts, if this is a West Coast campus then Bret Easton Ellis must be the principal.

The trademark Shaun Samson oversized T-shirt in a dramatic check, and the rare use of a female model at the Collections.

Buffalo boys (and pierced kitties) go around the outside in the show finale.

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