Last week saw London’s first ever standalone menswear fashion week. Well, it was more of a weekend really. The somewhat awkwardly titled London Collections: Men took place over three days in and around Covent Garden’s Hospital Club. We sent down a handful of writers to check out what London has to offer by way of menswear. As the city that produced menswear designers like Ozwald Boateng and Paul Smith, and home to legendary tailoring district Savile Row, we had high hopes. Luckily, London didn’t disappoint.
First up, Sarah-Jane Deane give us her summary from the weekend:
London Collections: Men presents MAN
It’s been a long time coming but Menswear has seriously excelled itself over the last year. So it seemed only fitting that we’d finally get a full weekend dedicated to it! I was invited along to the MAN showing at the TOPMAN Showspace showcasing only the best and freshest upcoming talent by British designers for menswear. MAN is a joint initiative between TOPMAN and Fashion East who’s designers have been selected by a panel of buyers, stylists and journalists including Nicola Formichetti, Charlie Porter and Tim Blanks. Each season these upcoming designers receive a bursary, catwalk show-production, PR support and expert advice to help them launch their labels.
Determined to ensure sports luxe will still be around once the London Olympics are a distnant memort, for spring/summer 13 Astrid Andersen opened the show with a celebration of the masculine form. Somehow the fusion of those most effeminate of fabrics, chiffon and lace, only seemed to accentuate the models masculinity. As Andersen herself puts it, this collection is about ‘finding brotherhood and spiritualism down at the gym.’ Futurism meets a 50’s twist on American contemporary with basketball jerseys crafted in transparent silk organza. Bare feet highlighted that the Andersen man is at one with nature and his inner self, with a tranquil colour palette that owes a debt to stained-glass church windows.
Agi & Sam
Inspired by watching rubbish 80’s detective programmes in their grandparents’ living rooms, Agi & Sam’s SS13 collection took inspiration from William Morris’ 18th century wood block prints as a contrast to celebrating the digital age with an explosion of pixellated images. Fake moustaches teamed with socks and sandals all screamed celebrate your inner geek – but still drink your Martini straight and seduce several women while you’re at it. The briefcases and exotic prints reminded me of James Bond on holiday or a business trip to Hawaii. Tailoring, fairly wide cut with a relaxed shape, was followed by sportier elements such as two-piece tracksuits and swim shorts.
Shaun Samson took us back to 90’s Seattle grunge with a collection that oozed teen angst and an inward exploration of the male self. Summertime, the 90’s Californian anthem by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince, played throughout the showspace, complementing the oversized hip-hop elements found in many of the slouched shorts and oversized sweaters. As seen previously at Astrid Andersen, Samson also made great use out of the transparent silk organza and a combination of fine meshes. The second half of the show paid great tribute to Eastern mechanics – Japanese dekotora trucks and American low riders – manifested via industrial blazers embellished with reflective glass and paired with high shine sequined harem pants. The collections major buzzwords? Teenage revolt.
Next up, the thoughts of TellusFashion’s Olivia Pinnock:
In a grand building just off the Mall, amongst the Queen’s birthday parades and politicians’ oversized mansions, Fashion East brought a contrasting touch of rebellion to London Collections: Men.
The fashion freaks queued up to see the young names picked by fashion’s fairy godmother Lulu Kennedy and the Bethnal Green dweller certainly has a taste for East London vibes. Savile Row it ain’t; the up-and-coming menswear designers presented creative installations around the three-storey house with models in Day of the Dead face paint, lampshades over their faces and sitting on err… giant green monsters!
Maarten Van Der Horst presented his first ever menswear collection, I Want Your Love, described as “band meets brand”. Inspired by the logos of heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and Van Halen, Maarten has recreated his own logo in a similar way and blazoned it on black t-shirts. Rock on Maarten!
Meadham Kirchhoff are also debuting menswear for spring/summer 13. Staged like the morning after a wild house party with cereal boxes and cigarette butts thrown about amongst the trashed beds, the models lounged about the room. The clothing was equally as mismatched. Baggy striped t-shirts, floral shorts, ribbed jumpers, quilted jackets, sheer embellished kaftans, you name it, it was probably in this collection.
Duffy jewellery set up their dark collection in bell jars on the ground floor. Skulls were a common theme and a pendant featuring an illustration of a hangman’s noose was equally as sinister. Who says jewellery for men is girlie?
Kit Neale’s colourful collection was a celebration of British eccentricity, inspired by growing up in Peckham and kitch seaside towns. Sea creature prints and clashing colours made this a fun offering (it’s also the installation with the giant green monster).
T.lipop offered casualwear inspired by Cholo streetwear (which is inspired by gang culture) while Lee Roach’s catwalk show at the venue presented a more minimalist style in black and white, simple cuts.
Yunus & Eliza’s “sculpture to be worn” headpieces caused a stir in the lobby and next door William Richard Green’s utilitarian pieces were a contemporary take on military uniforms.
Next was Craig Green’s lampshade covered model, representing the designer’s interest in the interplay between light and dark.
We’re also excited for Spring/Summer 13 with Astrid Andersson’s sporty offering mixed with neon lace, Shaun Samson’s creepy studded kitten face jumpers and Agi & Sam’s textural-looking print shirts. Good choices Lulu.