London Collections Men: Day 1, Highlights
Topman Design had the honour of kicking off LCM SS16, brimful of the youthful brand’s typically magpie attitude to British youth culture: featuring a cassette case flyer, post punk soundtrack and the shapes and motifs of Northern Soul dancewear (cropped jackets, patches, flared trousers), an incongruent mix but one which was clear about one thing: the skinny trouser’s days are definitely numbered.
Later, Craig Green took things up a notch in terms of levels of taste and a more cerebral approach to design; building on his experiments with samurai-style padded layers, loose, almost ecclesiastical volume and intriguing jumpers with nipple level holes emanating streaming fabric. If recent graduate shows are anything to go by, Green’s work is currently a yardstick for a certain well-considered approach to menswear, rich with meaning and the gravity of deep research.
Celebrating their 10th year, MAN’s runway show started with a celebratory film featuring founders Gordon Richardson and Lulu Kennedy and many of the designers who have graced the MAN runway over the years, including Christopher Shannon, Astrid Andersen and Craig Green (yes, him again). Rory Parnell-Moody and Liam Hodges were perfectly qualified as laurel bearers for the MAN anniversary show, the former expanding on his graceful, gothic silhouettes while Hodges’ body-painted urban tribalists (complete with live MC) were a worthy successor to MAN’s subversive forerunners.
Later in the afternoon, Diego Vanassibara held a party to showcase his new collection, demonstrating why he’s the only shoe designer to be in receipt of the highly competitive NEWGEN MEN funding; his shoes aren’t just accessories, they are the centerpiece of the story. Vanassibara SS16 comes with a fascinating backstory, built around the decimation of the Amazon rainforest, but focusing not on the plant and animal life affected but on the fate and traditions of the indigenous human tribes who live there. The collection, appropriately, features rich, earthy colours, and sees Diego’s signature wooden decorative elements being intricately carved and the surface of shoes laser etched to mimic the shell patterns of turtles.
Kit Neale hit his stride with his second runway show at LC:M, featuring his defining vivid colours and experiments with print, but with new proportions and fabrication. Shapes were often voluminous, especially on wide pants and swirling coats, with prints and jacquard fabrics inspired by the visual clash of car boot sale finds and the decorative surfaces of Grayson Perry’s ceramic artworks. A mix of boys and girls on the runway, ending with a finale of boys in Cobain-worthy grunge style dresses, effortlessly blurred gender lines. In less steady hands this could all be visual chaos, somehow this South Londoner (and his partner Caspar Hodgson) make it all work.
Concluding the first day of LC:M (at least for me) was a presentation by Sanjkuanz, incorporating elements of ethnic Northern Chinese culture but styled with a heavy, urban aesthetic, part Dalston rudeboy part Cholo, a truly global mix that somehow feels at home in London.
All images, besides standard runway shots are by Colin Chapman.