London Collections: Men, Day 2 Highlights
The second day of LCM got off to a poignant start with Lou Dalton’s homage to the hedonism and freedom of her own musically-enhanced youth. However, with typically incisive vision, rather than recreating the styles of the late 80s, and early 90s, Lou brought things bang up to date with a completely current spin on utilitarian clothing featuring the lightest of tech fabrics (at times transparent), warped checks and vivid orange and blues. Backstage, an exhausted and emotional Lou talked us through the process and inspiration for this light-hearted collection (read my Q&A with her here).
Astrid Andersen has become known for a very specific look and a very specific demographic, but beside the uncompromising stance of her streetwear-focused brand exists some extraordinary explorations of colour, form and symbols, from Japanese sumo to, in this instance, China and it’s unique position as a cultural cross-roads between past and future. While sportswear shapes and sheer fabrics that play with traditional expectations of masculinity are familiar Astrid motifs, there was a depth to the fabric experiments here, most notably in the heat transfer prints echoing the shimmer and embroidery of traditional Oriental flower patterns.
British designer Stuart Vevers transformation of the American luxury brand Coach, is drawing a lot of attention in the fashion industry currently, particularly after last season, when plush shearling outerwear had many a fashion editor gushing with praise and lining up to make pre-orders. A mixture of fashionable celebrities and social media potentates attended today’s presentation, demonstrating its current appeal. Practical, outdoorsy shapes in vivid, psychedelic, all-over prints, grounded with solid blacks and khaki were styled with some seriously covetable furry sliders, printed pumps and trippy coloured shades. Vevers is taking the brand on a very unexpected but irresistibly journey here.
Agi and Sam
Propelled into instant stardom before they really had time to assess what all the fuss was about them themselves, Agi and Sam’s journey through London’s recent love affair with menswear, has been a unique one. Hitting the zeitgeist of all-over print with full force, the design duo has subsequently experimented with scale, proportion and form, with print being used with a deliberate and sparing precision. Today’s collection had some familiar elements like the interest in playful, unexpected shapes and oversized proportions, but also reintroduced large-scale print in the form of broad stripes with the imprecision of hand-painted lines.
Ever the endearing anarchist, Matthew Miller opened his show with a conventional suit, which given his reputation for subversion, sent out a ripple of unsettled apprehension through the crowd. A couple of looks in, a vivid red slash on the back of an otherwise fairly conventional white business shirt confirmed there was clearly method in Matthew’s madness, and demonstrated that his approach this time would be of disruption through stealth. As less familiar forms and materials emerged, the collection continued to feed on the dramatic tension between the restraint of a neutral palette and the uniforms of business life with textural disruptions, most notably in the form of crumpled fabrics and shredded, distressed elements. Ties created by Marwood London and shoes by Robert Clergerie are credited, with reverence, as collaborations with “heritage craftsmen”, demonstrating that Matthew’s take on conventionality accepts no compromise on quality. Subtlety is an underused and undervalued tool in fashion, especially when used, as here, to deliver a statement of intent in the place of so much visual noise.
Reviewing Casely-Hayford’s work becomes increasingly hard as the father and son designers deliver such consistently beautiful collections, exhibiting a dazzling range of techniques and visual references within each one that it is difficult to sum up the whole without seeming repetitive. Colour is always a huge part of the experience but across no less than 31 looks there were distinct phases, from the racy reds of the openers to the softer creams, deep blues and a specific green that might have been the hero colour of the night. Styled, unusually, by the designers themselves, specific touches included metallic socks paired with sandals by the brand called Ancient Greek in an extremely contemporary combination.
With unlikely coincidence, Sibling’s show also started with an unexpected suit or two, but here the similarity with Matthew Miller’s collection ends as the Sibling collection was about anything but restraint. Looking back, the lacing detail on the hem of the suit trousers and the sheer breadth of the model’s shoulders were a strong hint of what was to come. And what was to come was Sibling’s irreverent take on the American Jock. You may already have seen the buttock-revealing back views of the American Football pants that the models later on in Sibling’s show revealed to the initially gasping, later grinning audience (and now doubtless scattered as images far and wide on the Internet). But before we get lost in that particular vision, lets talk about knitwear. A honeycomb geometric print in bold yellow and black had the stark colour contrast of sportswear but with the visual intricacy of high fashion. A scaled-up swirling curlicue appeared across pastel knits and denim and then the clothes started to reveal more flesh as the chunky, oversized laces at the crotch of both tailored trousers and more conventional football pants became more distracting. Loose cardigans in bold stripes, football vests with collegiate lettering, snug football tops, sports mesh, the colours, and construction were familiar from classic images of American sportsmen but the details were scaled up, sexed up and amplified in such a way as to make you look at them anew, like the best of Pop Art. Once the tabloid press get hold of the “bumster” images it may be harder to argue for the wearability of a Sibling cardigan, but should you come across their clothing on a rail, even without the presence of a ripped Alpha male to model it for you, I recommend you to take a closer look. It’s all really rather beautiful.