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.
LC:M is back again, and feels bigger and more sprawling this time with attendees being expected to navigate three official locations as well as the off-schedule curveballs in Soho and beyond. What used to feel like a celebration of menswear is now very much a corporate machine but London is doing very well at maintaining the voices of smaller-scale independent designers.
Offically, LC:M started on Friday, but it felt like it started Thursday night with Matthew Miller’s SS16 Goodhood launch event in Shoreditch. and the opening of Mad About the Boy, the exhibition curated by Lou Stoppard at the London College of Fashion’s gallery space in town .
LCF continued it’s fanfare to the onset of the weekend, with the MA show in the City of London on Friday morning, expertly edited by Anders Sølvsten there was an exceptional range of talent on show this season from the menswear postgrads.
Alexis Housden’s floaty sheers was just one of many outstanding collections at LCF MA show
The Topman Design show now bears the torch of opening LC:M and is always a heavily-attended event, the invited audience this season including an excited-looking Bryanboy. The collection itself had so many influences going on it was hard to keep up, from glam rock suits and louche crushed velvet to 90s distressed denim, but the show served it’s purpose of whetting the appetite for what’s to come over the weekend.
Nasir Mazhar’s collection featured complex layers of black on black with touches of 90s rave gear, but sexed up and made ultra body-conscious. What is so notable about Mazhar is his deft touch with the details such as the delicate use of feathers on the front of a sweatshirt and the specially packaged soundtrack CD by Murlo.
Wales Bonner’s collection, which opened MAN, was another spellbinding reminder of her ability to create not only beautiful clothing but also moments of true grace. Bonner has the power of a great filmmaker to set a tone through image, music and idea that wraps her work into a complete sensual experience. From the, now signature, sharp ‘70s outlines and diamante accessories to the oiled-up faces and hair festooned with gold and sliver leaf to the exotic Kora string instrument on show, there was no element of her vision that wasn’t painstakingly executed.
Rory Parnell-Moody’s MAN collection meanwhile didn’t divert too far from his ecclesiastical fascinations but T-shirts with lettering spelling out NANCY BOY made his vision seem somehow less theatrical and the tension in his work more real-world.
After last season’s rollicking nightclub-in-a-fashion-show recreation of his Loverboy night, it was clear that Charles Jeffrey would have to work hard at creating a big show, and he did it with a huge Gary Card-designed set, Day-Glo club kid models and his spin on tailoring, disrupted Aran sweaters and prodigious use of colour.
Craig Green brought the majesty again with carefully orchestrated waves of colour and exploration of oversized lacing, washed quilting and use of straps and fastenings, his work continuing to walk the borders of utility and a fine art/artisan approach to detail. The use of leather this season added a layer of tactile interest.
CMMN SWDN ‘70s themed presentation at the Alison Jacques studio in Soho, was a welcome break from the bigger venues. This sense of welcome extended to the collection itself, which featured cosy fabrics inspired by domestic interiors, including rich colour, tactile surfaces such as velvet and suede, and a sharp silhouette of cropped, boxy jackets and high-waisted jeans. Like the European city you’re yet to know fully but can’t wait to brag to your friends about discovering, there is great sophistication here.
Saturday looks set to be the most event packed day of the LC:M long weekend so hold fire for the next installment as some Sharpened Lead favourites like Lou Dalton, Matthew Miller and Sibling come out to play.
Mad About The Boy, curated by Showstudio alumnus Lou Stoppard, opens on 8 January exploring fashion’s obsession with youth, focuses on the way ideas of the teenage boy are constructed through definitive collections and fashion images. Inspired by designers’ fascination with youth culture, Mad About The Boy will examine the motifs and parallels within fashion’s treatment of youth.
The exhibition will collate the work of designers and image-makers including: Raf Simons, J W Anderson, Nick Knight, Larry Clark, Jason Evans, Kim Jones, Meadham Kirchhoff, Tyrone Lebon, Nasir Mazhar, Martine Rose, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Christopher Shannon, Judy Blame, Undercover, Patrick Robyn and more.
Notions of the young male as rebel and iconic rule breaker will be exemplified by a series of fantastical tableaux designed by Tony Hornecker: including a school toilet defaced with graffiti and flyers, to fully immerse the visitor in the identity of the teenage boy. And most notably of all, there will also be a recreation of Meadham Kirchhoff’s memorable SS 2013 Menswear presentation, which placed louche boys in lurid sportswear and intricately designed textiles within a flower strewn squat environment that had many a fashion editor reaching for the smelling salts.
Of the exhibition, curator Lou Stoppard says: ‘The fluidity and possibility of the teenage years seems to unite fashion’s obsession with the boy: sparked, perhaps by a strange belief in the precious genius of youth – of a time of perceived infinite opportunity, spontaneity and creative freedom. Designers young and old return to the same themes, constructing, rehashing and shaping the dream male, season in season out.’
Audio recordings of designers and photographers discussing their thoughts on the topic will be included alongside editorials, films and selected looks from seminal collections. Mad About The Boy presents the relationship between fashion and youth as an ever-evolving narrative.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a full programme of events, talks, workshops and masterclasses which will be announced in early January 2016.
Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion, 20 John Prince’s Street, London, W1G 0BJ
Entrance is free
Friday 8 January – Saturday 2 April 2016
Marsèll – how a tough-looking capsule collection for Mr Porter got me excited about Italian-made shoes all over again
It’s been a good old while, and fittingly my return to blogging is on the subject of shoes, a subject in which I have a perennial interest and am always happy to be associated with.
Mr Porter bravely declared itself the home of the world’s best shoes recently, and a well-lubricated event at their Westfield HQ demonstrated their handle on high-end footwear, from the trad to the defiantly un-trad (hello Rick Owens futurist trainers). Among the exclusives on offer (an impressive list: Grenson, Officine Creative, Filling Pieces, Neil Barrett, Christopher Kane and more) I came across the Marsèll brand for the first time, specifically in the form of an impressive pair of black boots, featuring a distinguished contrast between two very differently-treated leathers. Workwear is definitely the wrong word here, though the polished toe cap detail suggests serious resilience, equally the word distressed fails to convey the full sense of artisanal luxury of the weathered main body of the boot. Overall, I was reminded of the sturdy footwear of Dirk Bikkembergs whose stridently bulky boots with their distinctive wrap around laces threaded through the heel were much sought after in the 90’s. Below, co-founder of the Milan-based brand, Mirko Rizzi tells us a bit more about Marsèll’s singular approach to design.
Tell us about the capsule you did for MR PORTER?
We decided to focus on the concept of the combat boot. To achieve a capsule with a strong and aggressive attitude a preponderance of black and dark grey is evident in the colour palette, this together with the weathered and worn-in leathers employed results in the singular Marsèll signature style.
What were the influences or inspiration for this MR PORTER exclusive capsule
We started with a request from Mr Porter to develop an aggressive and strong collection inspired by the concept of the combat boots and took it from there.
Why did you partner with MR PORTER on this capsule?
We see in Mr Porter a great partner and we believe it is one of the best e-commerce platforms out there for men’s footwear. It was also interesting to work so closely with a retailer on developing a particular facet of our aesthetic and growing it into a full capsule. We enjoyed the
possibility of re-interpreting one of the historical models from the Marsèll archive exclusively for Mr Porter, to create this capsule.
Is there a specific design philosophy you follow as a brand?
Tradition lies at the base of our creative and production process, a process that welcomes influences and inspiration and contamination from all areas of contemporary cultural life. We are designers but we do not reject or ignore artisanal tradition and rules but rather embrace them to
reinterpret them in an independent and personal way. We think that the resulting modern aesthetic is personal to Marsèll and gives the collection its unique flavor and is its defining characteristic.
Most brands have a particular facet to their shoes that is identifiable as unique to that
brand – what is yours?
The finishing, the deconstructed and imprecise aspect, the androgynous and unisex style are what identify a Marsèll shoe.
What does the future hold for Marsèll?
Many, many projects in the pipeline, watch this space!
Postscript: speaking of spaces, the Marsèll showroom in Milan also functions as a unique exhibition space. Called Marsèlleria, it looks like somewhere to definitely check out next time you are in the city, and adds to the mystique of Marsèll as another Italian brand with a belief in design as something that really matters.
The capsule collection exclusively for Mr Porter (top image is the boots that started it all for me):
Other beauties from the current Marsèll range for Mr Porter:
Sharpened Lead favourite Wooyoungmi has been added to the impressive roster at OKINI for AW15 and to celebrate the launch an interview with the mother and daughter designers is live on OKINI.
Having perused the collection up close at Starworks press day a few months back I strongly recommend closer inspection, the deep colour palette, elaborate paneling and sense of warmth and luxury are qualities we can all relate to once the evenings start drawing in.
I set out with intentions to document New York Fashion Week: Men’s in painstaking detail but there’s simply too much happening, and with weather veering from intense sunshine to tropical showers and humidity, dashing between shows and presentations around town has become a time-consuming challenge. But enough of the excuses, here are some highlights from the last couple of days. Some of these collections deserve posts in their own right and I will be returning to favourites once the pace of events slows down after the final events end later today, here and over at STREETS magazine so check back in for updates.
No attention to detail was spared at Robert Geller: from the weathered boardwalk runway setting the scene squarely by the seashore, to the personalised notepads on the seats and accessories from open-toe socks and special edition sandals to knitted cummerbunds. We’ve seen colour spectrums and sunset-inspired colours this week, but Robert’s fading sun tones were of a softer, more Nordic variety; inevitably including the greys and subtle purples of Northern skies alongside rich golds. Shapes were relaxed but never less than elegant, individual looks suggesting easy combinations within a very cohesive collection.
Having long been a voice for independent menswear in New York, this was a moment for Duckie Brown, and they didn’t fail to dazzle us with the sheer beauty and artistry of what they can create with cut, pattern and cloth. Backstage, Steven shrugged off praise by declaring the creations to be “just jeans and T-shirts”, emphasising the simplicity of the shapes we’d just seen, but given the materials involved, the results were anything but pedestrian. Gauze T-shirts, flowing trousers extravagantly gathered at the waist and oversized suiting in yet more wafting materials, most strikingly in a vivid, Chartreuse yellow, provided one of the most bewitching collections of NYFW: Men’s.
Calvin Klein Collection
Italo Zucchelli’s collection for Calvin Klein, presented from a Garment District studio space, evidenced what is possible when you’re at the helm of a giant fashion brand. Fabrications were nothing less than incredible, from coated denim, to variations on sheer, the clothing here was like the costumes from a particularly cool contemporary Sci-fi film, but always understated and wearable. A cool to the touch – dare I even say “damp feeling” padded T-shirt would have been perfect for the muggy heat outside. A new spin on double-denim was provided by a denim sweatshirt and jeans combo. The socks and sandals trend was also taken up a notch by specially-designed socks featuring graphic panels under strappy nylon sandals.
Thaddeus O’Neil brought an entirely different, surf-y crowd into Skylight studios to experience his latest riff on the surfing hobo, this time with a vampire spin. Relaxed leisurewear never looked so high-end, with easy-going shapes, drapes, and luxury fabrications. In fact, the entire production felt distinctive with a specific sub-tribe of beefy models walking the collection, like a band of pirates with perfect beach hair.
Given that it was inspired by typographic pioneers, N.Hoolywood’s collection could have been awash with print, but as ever, there was careful restraint in Daisuke Obana’s approach to his subject. Where lettering did appear, it’s effect was subtle, and the pared back space on West 31st street provided a perfect backdrop for monochrome urban looks, given added attitude by the street-cast models.
Tim Coppens is one of the justly-celebrated stars of New York’s menswear scene. His European take on classic American leisure wear evokes the rhythm of the city’s streets with details always worthy of attention but never detracting from the whole. A case in point being the beading details lifting classic Van’s to high-fashion, the graffiti art inspired prints and riffs on classic Americana such as varsity jackets (complete with TC lettering) in unexpected colourways and fabrics. Coppens take on military-inspired trousers with a relaxed fit echoed shapes seen elsewhere this week, but never so perfect.
Alexandre Plokhov [images pending]
Plokhov’s show lived up to his theatrical, more goth than Gotham City reputation, as the throbbing soundtrack, blood-red lighting and dry ice established a thrilling atmosphere in the opening moments of his runway show. Starting inevitably with all-black looks, the luxury tailored sportswear was eventually diversified into navy, red and even lemon yellow. The way the slim cut of his elegant tailored sportswear fits the body is utterly contemporary.
Stuart Vevers’ remarkable transformation of the Coach brand was given another chance to shine this morning, with a presentation at the Coach showroom by the Hudson. Inspired by classic American eccentrics such as Hunter S. Thompson, trippy psychedelic patterns, bold colours and patchworked luxury fabrics add a counter-cultural aspect to the notion of luxury itself, and has made this once-staid American brand into something immensely covetable. From leather accessories to the must have animal print and coloured shearling sneakers and sliders, these pieces will be favourites with fashion editors next Spring/Summer.