Yesterday I had the pleasure to attend a series of talks from some of my favourite working professionals in the fashion industry.
The event was arranged @FashionInLeeds and @LeedsIntFest and has had small catwalks, talks and presentations from a wide variety of fashion and technology based talent which started on the 22nd of April and runs through to the 30th.
The three speakers I had the privilege of listening to were; Lulu Kennedy MBE who is the founder of Fashion East and MAN, bold print designer and collaboration queen Katie Eary and “Remade In England” sustainability designer Christopher Raeburn.
The first of the three speakers I attended was Christopher Raeburn who is best known for recycling military materials such as life rafts, maps and parachutes. He talked us through some of his fashion films and his inspirations behind his collections and materials. The ‘Meridian‘ video from his Spring/Summer 2015 collection was a visual masterpiece using CGI to recreate his garments and showing an artistic story of the materials used in a somewhat Matrix style of dressing.
(Side story… The last time I met Christopher Raeburn, we were locked out of an Agi & Sam after party (with Agi) and had to tell the doorwoman that the person who was left outside with us was actually the person hosting the party.)
Katie Eary spoke heavily about her career building around collaborations and the importance of building an identity and the opportunities others can give you to build a brand. Katie has collaborated with some incredibly diverse brands including; Kanye West, KFC and IKEA. She spoke a lot about her groundbreaking collaboration with IKEA as the first fashion designer to work with this homeware giant and about the long process of designing home furnishings, plates and bedding.
I have been such a fan of Katie Eary’s work. She was one of the first designers I had the pleasure of seeing during my first ever season of London Collections: Men (now known as London Fashion Week Men’s – christ I still hate this re-branding) and I still remember her bright pink flamingo collection to this day.
Lulu Kennedy MBE is a woman I have wanted to meet for quite a long time but never had the chance to. Fashion East and MAN are two incredibly influential and important companies to grace the British fashion scene. I’ve been lucky enough to attend many of the Fashion East and MAN collections and these showcases have been a great source of inspiration to me as I have inspired a lot of my work around some of these designers who have been spotlighted through these companies. Charles Jeffrey, Katie Eary, Bobby Abley and Gareth Pugh are all designers who I have used as inspiration for various photo shoots and visual projects.
With these talks being relatively small in numbers (and the fact they were hosted inside a shipping container in the middle of Briggate high street) meant that as a group we had the opportunity to talk to each of the guests and have quite an intimate Q&A. Though this was a huge bonus for me, it was a shame to see such influential speakers be in the presence of such a small crowd. Events and talks like these in Leeds are definitely infrequent but are highly valued. Leeds College of Art is an incredibly established art school and with many other designers and artists coming from the Northern territories of England I believe it should have more of a direct address in these areas as a lot of focus (naturally) is on London and London art school graduated designers. I always enjoy listening to designers, artists and industry professionals talking about their careers and experiences and I definitely feel that these events would not go amiss in Leeds.Please, please, PLEASE can we get more incredible speakers like these heading to Leeds in the near future, not just for my sake but for the hundreds of fashion students and industry workers Leeds has to offer!
Another menswear season has been completed (though this time it has been rebranded). London Fashion Week Men’s – formerly London Collections: Men as always has delivered a brilliant array of designers and a multitude of styles for the eyes to feast upon. Though before I begin, I think it has to be said that the name change which has aimed to link itself with London Fashion Week has actually managed to make the whole event feel different. We couldn’t quite figure out why as LFWM (formerly LCM) has changed season to season trying to find new hubs and show spaces after the Old Sorting Office was renovated. With LFW also making 180 Strand its new headquarters for fashion week, it seems that the commercialisation has become quite noticeable over the past few seasons and sadly, menswear is starting to feel like regular London Fashion Week and being different and stand-alone was on of the most loved qualities of LCM. Rant over, though the name and vibe is one thing, let me focus upon some of the treats of Autumn Winter 2017.
There were a few shows that tickled my fancy this year for a number of different reasons. I’ll start with Liam Hodges‘ Dystopian Lives collection and his beautiful use of glitch motifs with urban streetwear. Shades of jungle green and neon yellow blitzed down the runway like the symbols in the Matrix loading screen. There was an overwhelming blast of textures and pattern reminiscent of old computer software and VHS quality visuals creating a military camouflage feel. Photo prints featured on the garments were taken by Liam during his recent trip to China. – Side note, he lectured at the same University (DeTao Masters Academy) that I worked at a couple of years ago. This collection tickled all of my glitch-based taste buds and I thoroughly approved!
Oliver Spencer never fails to deliver an excellent collection. There were a lot of pieces this season that I would love to own and normally I find his collections to be a little tame to my tastes but this season I feel as though he had gone in a more playful direction but still maintaining the distinguished Oliver Spencer aesthetic. The ushanka style hats were a must-have accessory for winter. But the piece that stood out to me the most was the olive green velvet bomber jacket and baggy pants to match. I think I may have to start browsing the shops for my sizes now as he may well have found himself a new customer.
One designer this year was celebrating his birthday this season and had a runway show to celebrate. Bobby Abley brought his usual flair of childhood memories to life with sweaters emblazoned with Power Rangers designs, helmets and dinosaurs. We also got a nod to his previous Rio inspired collection with green, yellow and blue shorts and sweaters and of course a his token teddy bear logo made numerous features including a white leather chest harness, because nothing fuses together better than bondage and childhood comforts. The music was blasting out and the colours were a-plenty. It truly felt like we were all part of Bobby’s big birthday bash… The only thing lacking was the candles, cakes and alcohol.
And of course, the menswear collections wouldn’t be what they are without an array of presentations and parties. There were plenty of highlights in this field including Fashion East‘s Art School collection which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The presentation featured a rabble of budding young thespians all in the rehearsal stages and theatre workshops that will be incredibly memorable to all who ever took part in a drama class in high school. There was a charming ‘New Romantic meets Club Kid’ feel to the collection and nostalgia kicked in when performers all started doing a two-step jive to “Give A Little Love” from Bugsy Malone.
Wan Hung delivered all of the Asian aesthetic that I could possibly ask for. Beautifully minimalist and boxy shapes with glorious oriental fabrics and textures. Also, its hard not to enjoy looking at men in 70’s style platform boots. It was a modern take on vintage stylings and with the glorious colours and shapes of the clothing bursting forward, it truly made me want to have this collection sitting in my wardrobe as we speak. Bravo Wan Hung and thank you for the Asian sweets we were given on the way out.
There was one presentation surprisingly had me stunned. Kent & Curwen was the epitome of a showcase. David Beckham’s collaboration with the brand was something I wasn’t expecting but it made for a pleasant treat. This was his second collection with the heritage sporting outfitter (designed by Daniel Kearns). Located at the Oxo Tower Wharf, we scurried into a large warehouse through big (and heavily guarded) barn doors. We then travelled through a maze of derelict rooms, the only lighting was that of a series of projections of videos and clips from the look books. Once we finally located ourselves into the main room, we were greeted by a cocktail bar filled with mulled whiskey and traditional pub snacks like pork scratchings and fried chicken skins. Christ on a bike! The chicken skins were beyond amazing. But i’m not blogging about food today so back to business… Giant glass boxes filled with flowers proved to be a beautiful way to display the garments. Vintage look bombers, shearling jackets, sheepskin coats, rugby sweaters and boating blazers filled the room with a cheeky Peaky Blinders nod in the cap department. “What more could you ask for?” I hear you ask. My inner fan-boy then burst out as we were greeted by David, Victoria and Brooklyn Beckham. Vicky B?! Posh Spice. Without going into too much of a fan-girl mode, it was excellent, the whole presentation was stunning and to be rubbing shoulders with the Beckham’s is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you don’t often get to have.
London Collections: Men Spring Summer 17 feature in Shortlist Magazine.
This photo was taken outside of the Topman Show Space on the first day of LCM.
Striped Short Sleeve Shirt and Wide Leg Trousers: Topman Design
Black T-Shirt: Zara
Black Leather Envelope Bag: Reiss
Black Chelsea Boots: Rokit Vintage
Transitional Lens Aviator Sunglasses: Vintage
“The Godstar didn’t subscribe to convention, a maverick pioneer, a scholarly intellectual who welcomed fame and fortune when it forced itself upon him with healthy scepticism but never set out with any aspirations of success. Life as a Rolling Stone is complicated he confided in 1965, who knows how long it will last? Brian Jones was the soul of the Stone’s, it’s founding father with a mission to bring R&B across the Atlantic and into the homes of suburbia. For S/S17, Pretty Green have taken inspiration from the coolest Rolling Stone. The linage of immaculate polo’s, block print sweaters and psychedelic fringes harken to a time when the ace faces swaggered along Carnaby St. in search of illusive attire inspired by French cinema, ivy leaguers and rude boys. Today, their destination is clear. Pretty Green are more than a clothing brand, they’re the personification of an aesthetic.”
Words: Robert J Railton
Reference – ‘Godstar’ : Psychic TV (vinyl single 1985)
Top 3 Pieces
Pretty Green is not normally one of those brands I would consider myself to be a fan of, but after attending the Spring Summer 17 show, I had discovered a brand full of visuals that really tapped into my world of appeal.
Everything has been revamped, styles were throwing a huge nod back to the glorious days of Mod Britain subculture with a swinging nod to the cult of the 90’s Brit Pop era.
Silk Scarves were a plenty this season and my word were they a treat to behold. Glorious paisley patterns embellished with the Pretty Green branding in gorgeous mustard yellows and various shades of grey. Skinny fit, ever so long and tasselled ends draws the eye from neck to naval in a beautifully understated sense of style. Words cannot describe the joys of receiving a wee sample in our gift bag of the scarf which I have been wearing more days now than I can count.
I was rather surprised but also overwhelmingly impressed with the collaboration that was ‘Pretty Green x John Smedley‘. These knitwear polo shirts drew me in as soon as I saw them and I find myself still dreaming about the striped mustard and white polo with Black collar today! When it comes to knitwear you cannot go wrong with John Smedley and to see these two British iconoclasts of fashion come together was a real treat for the eyes.
My final must have has to be this contemporary take on the houndstooth print. A beautiful short sleeve shirt with open collar in shape with such neatness in the cut drew me in based on the effortlessly clean silhouette it produces which is juxtaposed from the almost grungy and blurred houndstooth print they opted for. A beautiful blend of Mod meeting Modern Man which I believe should be a staple in every mans wardrobe.
Top 3 List: Harry J Bartlett
A couple of snaps of my Day 2 attire at LC:M AW16. These images were taking at the Velsvoir presentation at the Lights Of Soho gallery. As always the guys put on a bloody brilliant event with some stunning must have accessories (and cocktails a plenty).
Sweater Vest: Vivienne Westwood
Tie: Vivienne Westwood
Hat: Thomas Farthing
Shoes: My Grandad’s Wedding Shoes
I had the pleasure of working backstage as a dresser for the male models at the Kingston MA Graduate Fashion Show at the Vinyl Factory in London and while I was there I managed to sneak in a few backstage snaps of the AMCK models.
It was a treat to work with such a great team and a fun bunch of sassy gentlemen. The day consisted of a lot of running around, stress, laughter and panic… Oh and alcohol, yeah, lots and lots of alcohol!
It’s been a long time since I have done a blog update (my apologies) and I realized that I completely forgot to do a little update about London Collections: Men SS16. I thought it would be a good idea to start with a couple of street style photographs from the escapades.
As some of you know, this year I spent 3 months doing an internship with a fashion course at a university in China and I returned to the UK the day before the LC:M festivities began which meant my wardrobe was a tad limited as I didn’t get chance to head home before the shows started. In transit back to the UK, one of my suits had got rather crumpled but luckily I had been blessed with the good fortune of having my first day’s attire kindly gifted to me by the Thomas Farthing London gang. (apart from the shoes) my whole ensemble was from the Thomas Farthing store and what a fun outfit to begin the week with! The inspiration was a Victorian Dandy with cravat, over-sized trilby and the leather stab-proof vest which was created by the Farthing front man, Adam Skyner based off an 1880’s design.
My outfit for the day was definitely noticed at LC:M and I think it was a nice fun way to kick off the shows for the week.
A big thank you to all the team at Thomas Farthing London who had me hooked up for the whole of LC:M SS16 with various head wear and accessories. If you’re out and about in Central London, I would strongly recommend checking out the store, they have such a beautiful collection of clothing and accessories for men and women. You can’t miss the giant Penny Farthing bicycle outside the show. 40 Museum Street, London.
Alternatively, you can browse the stock online at https://www.thomasfarthing.co.uk/
Charles Rufus Felix Speed, known better to you and me as Charley Speed, Models 1 superstar and judge on Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model.
I met Charley at Clothes Show Live, I had the pleasure to work backstage dressing the contestants of BINTM for their catwalk shows. It was there where I was beckoned to sew a button onto a jacket by Mr Speed himself. Yelling at me in a joking fashion for my lack of home economic skills (but an appreciation of my fashion). It was after this harrowing first acknowledgement, (he referred to me as a “helmet”) when I started talking to Charley between shows (as he immersed himself into his Bad Piggies app on his phone) which seemed to be the only free time we had.
I managed to squeeze in a quick interview around all the chaos of hair & beauty, the frantic dressing of the BINTM girls and the management team yelling out show times and requirements.
- HJB: How did you become involved in the fashion industry?
- CS: A really good friend of mine (while I was still at Art & Design college) sent photographs in to some competition she saw on a kids TV show, well, a Saturday morning TV show called Massive… I think. Then she told me about it and then the first I knew of it is that they wanted to see me and I went to see them as I was at college doing… not much. They said “You can do it part time or full time, we think you’ve got a really good look for right now, if you do it full time we think you’re gonna do pretty well”. So I just thought I’d go for it. It was a chance to travel and all sorts.
- HJB: What was the biggest campaign you were involved in?
- CS: One of my very first campaigns within about three or four months of signing with Models 1 was Calvin Klein which was pretty much international. Times Square with Kate Moss, it was everywhere. Then I went on to do another three campaigns with him and Kate and that’s what cemented me.
- HJB: So how did you get involved with Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model?
- CS: Essentially, the winner of the show traditionally gets a contract with Models1 who are my agency and who are the ones who first signed me up. Back when [Lisa] Snowdon was doing it, I think they wanted to get a new judge on the panel and they came to Models1 to perhaps get a male model on and they rounded a few of us up who’d had a lot of experience and I just went through the interview process, screen tested with her. They really liked me but eventually at the last minute, the money-men went “Oh, lets get someone a bit more flamboyant”. Thankfully, they called me back again when Elle Macpherson took over, so in a way it was a blessing in disguise and then I got another two years with Elle and the show was elevated by the time I joined.
- HJB: If you could work with any designer for a show, who would it be and why?
- CS: [Pause] That’s a difficult question. I haven’t modeled properly like that for years, when I was modelling, if someone had asked me who haven’t you worked for, that would be an easier question. And that’s not me showing off, I just kind of… When you’re an ‘it’ model, you work for everyone! I always love modelling for Gucci when Tom Ford was at the helm because he really reinvigorated the brand. He brought back that classic, lovely tapered, well-cut suit and I opened countless shows for him which is a big thing when you’re a model. Opening shows is kinda cool, there’s a bit of a prestige to it and he was such a charming man to work with and having seen his visual work to his film, I’ve just got so much respect for him. I did drama when I was younger and I have an affiliation with that. So it’s gotta be Tom Ford.
- HJB: If you could only wear one designer for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?
- CS: Probably the same answer. I should really say a British designer, and I have a huge respect and love for Saville Row and that tradition that goes back such a long time. There is nothing like a bespoke suit. There are so many brands that I like in that respect… I’m sorry guys, I’ve given them a plug and I adore Saville Row, I love Richard James, I love Richard James Custom, it’s very cool and I’ve worked with him a lot, but I’m going with Tom Ford man, as its just my style.
- HJB: While on the topic of suits, what are your three rules of ‘How To Wear A Suit’?
- CS: I don’t really have any rules, I mean, make sure it fits properly man. Okay, there’s also the obvious things about cufflinks, just the right amount of cufflinks showing below the suit jacket. I personally like a slim-fitting suit. Anything that’s boxy, forget it! You know what, you can buy off the peg suits very reasonably priced and you can find tailors who will take them in for you for like fifteen quid. Yeah? They’ll just pinch the back and it will transform it. Those are my best tips.
- HJB: Thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure.
- CS: You are most welcome.
I can honestly say that Charley Speed is a very open and friendly man, he seemed well up for a laugh and didn’t seemed fussed by the hustle bustle that was going on around him.
I loved working with Charley and the Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model girls and would love to work with him again on another project… If you’re reading this Mr Speed, contact me !
[Photography: Nicole Gomes – www.facebook.com/NicoleGomesPhotography]
London Collections: Men AW15 has proved to be a very exciting season, this time round I had the pleasure of collaborating with a very talented illustrator. Trystan Matthey has drawn each outfit I wore at LC:M.
Trystan’s illustrations of mythical beings fascinated me and I loved the idea of having my attire illustrated in a similar fashion.
I hope you like the illustrations as much as I do and if so, I would strongly suggest checking out his Instagram – @tribandej
For other enquires, go to his Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/tribandejoyceart