London Collections: Men, Day 4 Highlights
In the best tradition of LC:M, the fourth and final day exemplified the diversity of London’s showcase of menswear talent, from the Paul Smith event held on Savile Row to the hedonistic, polysexual world of Charles Jeffrey at Fashion East’s takeover of the ICA.
The day started with the reliably high taste values of E.Tautz. The collection this time was partially concerned with the concept of leisure time and the emergence of specific clothing to enjoy one’s leisure time in post War Britain. Patrick’s inspirations can often be read as being quite sombre, but the results are always extremely elegant, and, increasingly, particularly for summer, casual. Graphic print T-shirts, wide-legged raw denims and neat shorts had the easy-going grace of last summer’s British seaside-influenced collection with a more varied, modernistic appeal.
After putting his lightweight A Suit To Travel In last season to the test with the help of a troupe of super-agile acrobats, Paul Smith presented a sequel in the form of two stunt cyclists who performed a series of jaw-dropping feats on two wheels (and sometimes on just one) while wearing summer variations of the suit, thus amply demonstrating it’s ability to withstand the trials of travel and physical exertion. Ever the exemplary host, Sir Paul, equally, left his audience with no doubts as to his prowess as a salesman and designer.
Fashion East – Charles Jeffrey
There could be no greater contrast than leaving the Paul Smith event on Savile Row and entering Charles Jeffrey’s presentation downstairs at the ICA for Fashion East. Charles had stated that he wanted to bring the world of the club night he runs, Loverboy, into the arena of the fashion presentation, and stepping into the darkened space I had the same sense of having stumbled into something by accident as I had at Meadham Kirchhoff’s now legendary ‘squat’ presentation several seasons ago: part voyeurism, part urge to join the party.
On a three-foot platform, the euphoric dancers twirled, sashayed and postured to the sounds of the live DJ, Sega Bodega. So what of the clothes? While elaborately paint-splattered jeans were as free spirited as the occasion, there was also an unexpected reverence for the sartorial, with Savile Row-produced boating blazers, ‘school boy’ shorts and an electric blue cashmere overcoat demonstrating Charles’s love of the peacock aspects of the British tradition.
It’s been a while since fashion and club culture have been presented in such proximity, but by providing a platform for the beguiling night creatures of his universe to exhibit themselves, Charles is part of a tradition from the recent past (Boombox, Ponystep) to the more distant and classic (Kashpoint, Smashing, Taboo, The Batcave, The Blitz), while creating an unforgettable way to showcase his work as a designer. A passing Princess Julia introduced us and I was lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with Charles while the party raged on, read that here, or press on to more highlights from Day 4.
Fashion East – Wales Bonner
Some have described Wales Bonner’s presentation at The ICA for Fashion East as being the ‘Heaven’ to Charles Jeffrey’s bacchanalian ‘Hell’ at ground level. Recent graduate Wales Bonner has earned a reputation not only for producing beautiful clothes but also for fulfilling a very exacting vision of how they should be presented, with the attention to detail of an auteur film director.
Like Charles Jeffrey, there was a whole world here, but nothing could be more distinct from the discotheque atmosphere on the ground floor than the atmosphere recreated of a languid afternoon in the cool interior of an Indian palace, complete with bucolic indoor lily pond, exquisite antique Indian furniture and the delicate fragrance of incense. Inspired by the journey of Malik Ambar from destitution in East Africa to the life of a royal ruler in West India, the story presented was of transformation and diasporic experience.
Since her initial presentation, Ebonics, held in January at Fashion East, Wales Bonner has become known for presentations resonant with the dialogue around representations of the black male. Given the Indian setting, cottons, silks and linens felt like natural choices. Nehru collars, pleated shorts and wide-legged trousers gave a sense of time and place, like looking at vintage photographs, these languid items were offset with Wales Bonner’s signature effeminate flourishes from silk scarves to diamante, cowrie shells and embroidery, but there was also visual discordance provided by the high-waisted jeans, snug vests and fitted T-shirts.
Wales Bonner has achieved a great deal in very little time and the visions she creates leave you reeling with a sense of beauty.
Tourne de Transmission
My last glimpse of London Collections: Men, SS16 was at Graeme Gaughan’s brand Tourne de Transmission’s presentation at St. George’s Church, a little way down the road from the main LC:M venue. Inspired by Colombia’s Kogi tribe, the collection, which here benefited from the Buffalo styling touch of Barry Kamen, featured soft, easy-going layers in crisp creams and black. Styled up with Kamen’s original collection of hats, the pieces had an organic feel, and the clean palette lent itself to easy combination and relaxed summertime dressing.