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So, the fourth and longest ever London Collections: Men just ended and the fashion set already have their eyes trained on Florence, Milan and Paris (those that aren’t scouring the Internet for pics and opinions of Galliano’s return at Maison Margiela, that is). It’s a sad fact that after months of hard work on the part of designers, a collection either makes the headlines or it doesn’t, and even then, interest is fleeting as there is always another show, another city, another designer to focus on, especially in these super-fast days of Instagram gratification. I’m therefore cautious to be seen to be drawing too much of a definite line under anything, as there are still fuller stories to be told, images to be savoured and opinions to be reassessed and considered. But, from a very personal perspective here are my highlights from the fourth day at London Collections: Men AW15.
I’ve reviewed every E.Tautz show since I was first introduced to the brand about five ago and I’m still amazed how with every collection Patrick Grant maintains the same level of refined elegance with unwavering attention to tone and detail. While the scale of the production is now too big to receive the benefit of Mr Grant’s much-missed verbal walkthrough, the beautifully presented printed ‘newspaper’displayed on show seats now provides a sneak preview of what’s to come. This time, grainy black and white photography of Northern working class communities by John Bulmer with quotes from Douglas Dunn’s Terry Street set a sombre tone for the collection, while the soundtrack incongruously blended full-bodied Etonian spoken English with thudding Acid techno. The sombre mood was continued with capacious tailoring in moody greys, evoking the casual grace and everyday elegance of a forgotten England, where tailored clothing was the norm and personal presentation was as important as a gritty acceptance of reality. There is always a visual klaxon in an E.Tautz collection and this time it was the shoes: studded, wooden-soled clogs, some with monkstrap fastenings fusing two worlds with their nod to traditional Northern workwear and the red flash of their Louboutin soles. The roomy pleated trousers were a huge hit for me, period and yet contemporary in their proportions, in striped wool and flannel. Roll-neck knitwear, car coats and oversized pockets were other striking elements of the collection. There’s a seriousness to the experience of seeing an E.Tautz collection for the first time, which I appreciate and a certain mood which lingers long after the show is over.
It was perhaps fitting that Patrick Grant was among the crowd moving between the two venues of London Collections: Men for the next and much anticipated show of the morning: Craig Green. Green shares with Grant a preciseness of vision, nothing is left to chance and the music and pacing of their shows feels strictly controlled but with the intended outcome of a deep emotional resonance. In only his second individual runway show, Green’s staging already feels very seasoned, a stirring, filmic soundtrack establishing an emotional backdrop to a collection that seemed to explore extremes of revelation and restraint. Slim, body-hugging outlines were contrasted with signature complex layering, like soft armour. Surface detail and decoration were minimal but profound, the edges of jersey pieces drawn together with the rawness and taut energy of a surgical suture. Pared back to black, white and vivid red this was clothing with a sense of purpose, an esoteric uniform.
My third highlight of the day was very different in tone but no less affecting for that. Inside the Hauser and Wirth gallery, Paul Smith’s presentation utilised the skills of some very athletic acrobats who put his ‘a suit to travel in’ through full 360 degree mobility testing, with acrobatic feats worthy of the circus. The eponymous, beautifully cut navy suit (worn by male and female performers alike) matched with a minimal taupe trainer redefined work travel attire, suitable for every occasion and demonstrably resilient. It takes a lot to distract the fashion crowd from their social media devices but Mr Smith achieved it today with typical idiosyncrasy.