London Collections Men: AW15, Day 2 Highlights
Day two at London Collections: Men has been quite phenomenal, picking up the pace with shows spanning morning to late evening and showcasing the range of menswear talent in London. As this is a highlights piece, I’ve decided to try and limit myself to one image per designer, a bit challenging to be honest, as I’ve seen so many beautiful things today.
As a fashion commentator, there is a risk of covering the same designers over and over, particularly when you get to know them and their their work intimately. Lou Dalton is a mainstay across all my fashion writing, a touchstone for what I refer to when people ask me what defines good menswear in London currently, and I make no apology for that. This morning’s show was one of her best ever, ramped up by some incredible fabrics and ongoing references to a certain very British way of dressing; blue-collar, with a hint of post-punk attitude reimagined in luxury fabrics. Initial impressions were of black, black and more black (never a criticism in my eyes) but pastel printed short scarves, tied with rough boy insouciance, Blackwatch tartan, bleach prints and a subtle hints of dusky pink including (shaggy textured mohair) disproved this. I fear my personal order list from this collection is going to be quite major.
Each of the designers here deserves a separate mention, especially Shaun Samson who held a runway show in the basement of Rook & Raven, the venue for today’s Fashion East installations in W1. I associate Fashion East with a certain kind of anarchic energy, but also with undisputed raw talent and today’s offerings were no exception.
First up, Shaun Samson’s show was packed with eager fans keen to see the Californian’s work on this side of the Atlantic again. Pitched against a soundtrack of California Dreaming, Samson explored his native Americana infused with trademark twists and turns to the familiar story; the structure of checked lumberjack shirts was defined and trimmed and looks were styled with fur scarves and denim aprons proclaiming typically subversive messages.
Grace Wales Bonner
A recent St Martin’s graduate, Grace Wales Bonner’s appearance at Fashion East prove the initiative’s ongoing status as a premier incubator of fashion talent. If there is one word to describe Bonner’s take on perceptions of the black male it is ‘louche’, as her languid, oversized phone toting, bewigged models would no doubt agree.
If there was one designer who shone at Fashion East today in terms of sheer polish and accomplishment it was Edward Crutchley, whose collection, featuring powerful samurai shapes and embroidery details made familiar through elegant sportswear shapes such as baseball jackets.
Agi & Sam
Inspired by aspirational fashion designs by a young Agi, Agi & Sam’s AW15 collection fused generous boxy shapes, apparently reconfigurable with velcro fastenings, and extraordinary abstract colour details. Had I not seen the show notes I would have assumed that the inspiration was the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat; the painterly colour splashes, vibrant contrasts and sense of freedom with shape and form seemed a likely explanation, though a child’s perspective makes equal sense. Fashion underpinned by concepts tends to be mistrusted but who wouldn’t want to wear such painterly, satisfying colour?
Miller is another mainstay in my seasonal highlights, his Kvadrat-heavy collection this time last year was very convincing and this collection was similarly impressive. Matthew manages to draw a taught line between pared-back minimalism and punk subversion. His now signature biker jackets looked fresh in berry tones and long hems ended in fringing with no sense of excess or fuss.
For AW15 shoe designer Diego Vanassibara has extended his range of shoes featuring exotic wood components to include more rugged details such as pebbled leather with a colour palette inspired by stormy weather; from solid black to moody greys. With stockists now including Dover Street Market, Diego’s star is definitely ascending, whatever the weather.
It’s hard to comment on Sibling without mentioning the unparalleled atmosphere at their shows; the punk soundtrack is now a given, as are the ear-to-ear grins of the attendees and no show in London has such a build-up to it or sense of fun. Taking inspiration from teen obsessions and embryonic aspirations, Sibling AW15 is pink, all pink, a typically provocative stance, but beneath the shock-factor, as ever, was a very considered approach to knitwear. Padded biker jackets were fused with knitted cuffs, there really was an Argyll cardigan draping those pert pecs and the trio continued to explore traditional knitting formats such as Fair isle and cable made outrageous through atypical vibrant colour. Sibling has given men’s knitwear sex appeal, for which we should be eternally grateful.