London Collections: Men AW16 – Day 2 Highlights
Day 2 of London Collections: Men is typically the busiest of the whole long weekend and AW16 was no exception, here are some personal highlights from a packed day of shows and presentations.
Charged with the unenviable 9.30 Saturday morning slot, E.Tautz nevertheless offered us some warming nostalgia to counteract the leaden skies outside on The Strand with a collection inspired by Patrick Grant’s youthful experiences growing up and going out in Edinburgh. Reflecting that city’s sombre elegance, the colour palette was largely shades of charcoal and sandstone. Wide-legged pleated trousers were layered with bombers featuring oversized epaulettes and capacious double-breasted coats. These soft, roomy shapes emphasised the youthful form of the models and in a sense, the indolent innocence of youth itself.
Agi & Sam
Gone are the days when an Agi & Sam collection meant cacophonous print and the very particular type of attention reserved for those identified as ‘the next big thing’. In its place is a more mature, considered and ultimately more satisfying approach to fashion from the pair. Monochrome looks, utilitarian details and asymmetry are the new order of the day best expressed here in the drab olive green that is emerging as one of the champion colours of the season.
It’s always a great sign when a designer seeks to truly produce every aspect of their presentation, music is usually a given, but the lush runway carpet at Astrid Anderson featuring the brand’s distinctive graphics, spoke volumes about Andersen’s added attention to detail, with overtones of luxury houses such as Versace. The strongest looks here featured bouclé tweed sourced from Linton, Chanel’s historic supplier, in the form of overalls and basketball shorts but there was also strong knitwear in shades of aqua and quilted hoodies in (you guessed it) drab olive green.
YMC’s show reverberated (literally) to the live sounds of Parallelogram, a specifically commissioned live band playing wigged out, Middle Eastern psych sounds as backdrop to a collection full of references to ’70s counter culture, from the array of hippie deluxe hats, to the clogs (featuring Vibram soles as a nod to contemporary practicality) and ponchos. As ever, the looks were wearable with inventive fabrication such as the ingenious wool seersucker, certainly a first for me.
For AW16 Lou Dalton returned to her beloved Shetland islands in a collection filled with rugged details, from the glossy black vinyl of the opening pieces (redolent of the slippery depths of the North Sea), to the chunky weight of the knitwear, voluminous outerwear and even the quirky styling touch of the fisherman’s ID tags worn as earrings. Undoubtedly the strongest statement in the collection, however, was the use of a bold red plaid on a camel background appearing on oversized MA1’s with dropped shoulders and in an extraordinary overcoat complete with padding inspired by lifejackets. Lou has always excelled in outerwear, particularly when there’s an heart-filling story behind the pieces, and this collection with its grittily romantic origins is a great example.
Many designers aspire to be conceptual and too often show notes are full of lofty aspirations – intangible references that are hard to discern in the end results. With Matthew Miller however, his intention as a designer is always deadly clear, and deadly elegant. For AW16, Miller’s purpose was to reclaim the term Nouveau Riche as a wry statement on this generation’s cultural plundering of previous eras. Sleek tailoring was disrupted by hand painted oil on canvas armbands, signature biker and bomber shapes appeared with utilitarian details in stark, startlingly beautiful monochromes. The foppish shapes and fabrics of history from velvet to exquisite hand-stitched leather gloves and extravagant fringing were worn with the heartless irony of a modern brigand, running riot.
Like fashion anthropologists, Casely-Hayford’s reverence for British subculture goes deep into its subject and comes out making those influences both evident and as if seen for the first time. Here, vivid psychedelic pattern and patchwork denim spoke of Britain’s love affair with mind-expanding self exploration, in lesser hands this would seem like dressing up, but Casely-Hayford are never so crass. Riffs on the MA1 jacket showed that item is still ripe for experimentation while extreme fishtails took the Mod parka to trippy new lengths. New this season was a collaboration with Sperry (famous for their classic ‘topsider’ boating shoe) who produced the chunky creeper-style shoes, another item with strong subcultural connotations.
The anticipation of a Sibling show is like nothing else at LC:M. As Saturday night’s theme came into focus: the fierceness of Ms. Grace Jones, the heady spirit of New York’s ’80s scene and its iconic artist Michel Basquiat, there was electricity in the atmosphere; this was a natural fit. It’s also a great opportunity to tread with great Sibling-shaped paw prints over yet another set of alpha-male mores, this time the world of boxing, filtered through reference to the classic image of Basquiat in boxing shorts and gloves with his white-haired mentor, Andy Warhol. With a colour palette inspired by Grace Jones’s album covers and ‘the feeling and look of Basquiat’, translated as his signature baggy pleated trousers (the artist may have bought his from Flip on 8th Street, Jack Sunnucks suggests in his deliciously detailed press release for the collection) and cropped wide suit jackets. The Sibling handwriting of Fair Isle found inspiration in Basquiat’s chaotic painting style while referencing his personal dress code in the knitted jackets with drop shoulders and chevron tie belts and the aforementioned trousers, here recreated in luxury Dormeuil fabric. Not to forget the boxing theme, this was explored in the high-waisted boxer shorts with iconic Sibling leopard print, a knitted lace boxing gown and of course knitted boxing gloves, a play on gender norms that is typically Sibling. Such knockabout provocation “the clash of female and male, Disco vs. Hip Hop, hard vs. soft” is integral to Sibling, Sunnucks reminds us, and long may this dynamic propel us forward through more stories told through the unlikely power of knitwear.
Speaking later in the weekend, Kim Jones talked about the importance of being true to yourself, and it is clear that is just such an outlook that he values in protege Edward Crutchley, who showed his AW16 collection in an intimate salon environment hosted by Jones himself on Saturday night. Crutchley is a Yorkshireman and true to his Yorkshire roots, there was a sense of authenticity and intrinsic value in his work: the loose fluidity of the outerwear, the use of an agrarian colour palette against rich navy blue and the no-nonsense appeal of dungarees and homespun knitwear. Against a backdrop of photographs by David Crutchley, the designer’s dad, of the family’s native Dales, the designer demonstrated the flair with unique textiles that has taken him to Louis Vuitton in Paris to advise on textiles for Kim Jones. Shawls were embellished with embroidery rich with personal meaning (including reference to Yorkshire’s spirit animal the ferret), knitwear possessed tactile intricacy and the apparently familiar was reimagined as the quintessential English oak leaf appeared in a reworked camo print. Central to Crutchley’s work, is an ethnographic level of interest in artisanship, which takes him to far flung destinations such as Bali and Japan to work with the finest craftspeople, represented here in collaborations with British milliners Lock & Co and in the use of silver badges by Toye, Kenning and Spencer (who hold a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty The Queen). In a world where fashion ideas are so often disposable there is a sense of grounded appreciation of the truly beautiful in Crutchley’s work which makes him a very welcome addition to the LC:M schedule.