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 has proven to be another phenomenal season, full of fine tailoring, blurred gender barriers and more parties and free drinks to get an AA meeting moist.
This season I mingled with some of the finest faces to be seen in the menswear world and what a season it was for myself. Surrounded by an endless supply of male models. I rubbed shoulders with the likes of David Gandy, Oliver Cheshire, Sam Way, Jimmy Q and Harry Curran, enjoying all the front row treats that came with it. Though I did feel rather repugnant perched next to David Gandy, Tinnie Tempah and Dermot O’Leary, being front row did allow me to view the the runway outfits in their full glory without jumping up and down, tiptoeing or holding my iPhone in the air in with the hopes of capturing a low resolution look at the fine details of each item of clothing.
This season was full of diversity making each collection unique and desirable in their own way and my particular favourite shows had to be Katie Eary, James Long, Christopher Shannon and Topman Design. But when it comes to making a splash, the Oliver Spencer show proved to be the big hitter on the social media platforms after one of the water pipes burst, showering one block (with front row guests including David Gandy, Oliver Cheshire, Dermot O’Leary and Tinnie Tempah) in hot water, including myself sitting on second row.
Quite frankly I was drenched and at the time I had no idea what was happening, the lights started going down, everyone had found their seats and then I got spray of hot water down my neck, lots of screams started and people started fleeing the area and leaping over benches like a scene from 28 Days Later. In a blind panic, I realised I had left my Vivienne Westwood backpack (which quite frankly I was not leaving behind) so in an act of pure bravery, I ran towards the water, blurring my glasses and fogging my vision, like walking in to a burning building to save my beloved treasure. “I’m not leaving! My bag is in there!” Granted, maybe it was a little overdramatic but it was piss wet through. We all waited back in the entrance, had a quick natter about the surge of hot water and back in we went 15 minutes later, sat back in our (thankfully dried) seats and held tightly onto our personal belongings, just in case. For a second time, the lights dimmed and thankfully the show began, and as to no surprise, Oliver Spencer had indeed put on another incredible show.
After a hard day of networking, watching fashion shows and drinking free champagne like there’s no tomorrow, what better way to unwind than more alcohol at the many after parties going on throughout London Collections, and let me tell you this… There were some bloody good parties this year. First night I started off with the Esquire party at the Rosewood Hotel Piano Bar, very sophisticated and a great DJ set from Boy George. Other greats included the Fred Perry party, River Island’s presentation, YMC x Liberty and KTZ. But my favourite party had to be the Superdry party upstairs in The Old Sorting Office. Free drinks, big open warehouse, Nick Grimshaw DJ’ing but best of all, people were actually dancing! Proper dancing, the sort that would make a stripper proud, not bobbing while handing out business cards to associates. Dirty, legitimate, skanking slutdrops, dutty wine and head banging. It’s the first time i’ve seen people properly let loose at a fashion event and have a good time.
But when all was said and done, we happily returned to the place where everyone knows your name, the #TopmanLCM Pub for a burger, a pint and a mingle with our fellow fashion lovers.