London Collections Men, AW15: 6 key themes
I’m not sure I really believe in trends any more, neither do I want to facilitate the easy dilution of designers’ ideas through tidy generalisations. But call it collective consciousness, cultural synergy or simply a reaction to what’s gone before and inevitably, themes emerge after four days of menswear shows. Here are some of those I noted while attending dozens of shows across the full four days of London Collections:Men.
The colour pink
It would be a natural assumption to make that Sibling’s all pink collection was a starting point for this one (especially if there’s any doubt in your mind that such a theme exists at all) but actually, I’d first noted the use of dusky pink in Lou Dalton’s collection, on short printed scarves, a pink sweater and the on the shaggy inner lining of a coat. Furthermore, Casely-Hayford injected an unexpectedly vibrant note of colour in their Sunday night show, while steering the colour wheel towards cerise. I’m not saying that this time next year we’ll all be dressing like Percy Pigs but an accent colour is always required in drab winter and right now, the prospects for pink being that colour are looking rosy.
Shaggy, knitted mohair, teddy bear
I’ve already mentioned the beautiful shaggy under-layer in that Lou Dalton coat, but a similar texture was also seen at Kit Neale in a soft blue car coat and vibrant orange top and Sibling’s firework display of a show included knitted goat hair as the ultimate incarnation of shagginess. Perhaps its the underlying trend (sorry), or at least cultural reference point, of the 1970s in fashion right now, that has made a shaggy outer layer feel so appealing. From the superficial reproductions at Hunter Gather to the scarily accurate at Topman Design, and the more elevated and subtle evocations at J.W Anderson, the fashion lens is turned on the ’70s right now, perhaps out of interest in a more spontaneous, less self conscious time. The car coat seems like the most obvious vehicle for ’70s shagginess (aside from the option of furry collars and accessories) an enduringly bohemian way of keeping warm, even if you’re not Citizen Smith.
While we’re on the subject of shagginess, there was a definite enthusiasm for shearling in the menswear shows, seen everywhere from Tom Ford to Burberry Prorsum but most ingeniously at James Long, where shearling collars added a sense of luxury and daring adventure to more utilitarian items and also at Belstaff, where the material felt most decadent, particularly on a white shearling jacket and as trimming on biker boots. Sheepskin producers the world over will be very happy about this development, their flocks less so.
Last season James Long’s collection featured distressed denim pieces embellished with ribbon details, a countercultural response to the idea of ‘make-do-and-mend’ by actually adding ornamental detail. This season his denim jackets were more elaborate still, suggesting a grab-and-run raid on haberdashersV.V.Rouleaux by a band of young bohemians. Elsewhere, embellishment was more precise, such as the patchwork appliqué lettering at Kit Neale and the use of grosgrain ribbon as a luxe take on sporty stripes at Baartmans & Siegel. On a tangent from this, Matthew Miller continued to explore the potential of his exquisite choice in fabrics with fringing on otherwise minimal, androgynous tunic tops and Edward Crutchley at Fashion East demonstrated his expertise with Far Eastern-themed embroidery (this new talent also produces fabrics for Louis Vuitton).
Volume, layers and disproportion
For the last few seasons there has been an interest in mismatched layers, often achieved through long skirt-like T-shirts worn under bomber jackets or apron-like flaps over more conventional trousers. As an overall outline, there is still an interest in breaking the convention of neatly arranged layers but at the London shows the shapes were less predictable somehow, from James Long’s shawl/kaftan asymmetry, to Craig Green’s multiplicity of layers like Japanese armour padding and Lou Dalton’s layering up of tone-on-tone Blackwatch with removable gilets and pleating and padding on the reverse of coats adding unexpected volume at the rear. At Agi & Sam pieces were reconfigurable with velcro strips, adding their weight to a movement towards a less easily defined outline, neither slim nor wide but essentially unpredictable.
The new looser, wider trouser
Slimline trousers seem to have been with us forever, and while no one is suggesting a return to straight-legged nothingness, the next area to explore in trouser shapes is the oversized and loose. Whether the style resembles the proverbial Oxford Bags and the loose flannel pants worn by the Bright Young Things in the 1920s (Gordon Richardson of Topman was spotted in the most perfect pair of pale grey wool trousers on Day 1 of LCM), or is a more avant grade take on roominess (think Craig Green again or Martine Rose who has been a pioneer in the capacious trouser) there is more room to move. One impact of this is that trousers are allowed to bunch and fall over the shoe front, a look particularly suited to a minimal trainer and finally drawing a line under the cropped trouser. Exemplars of capaciousness at LC:M were E.Tautz’s striped wool and flannel options, and the beautiful soft tailoring of Thien Trang Bui who presented at London College of Fashion’s MA menswear show on Friday.