Words by Stephen George
The schedule’s short! Menswear is in turmoil!! Fashion week is falling apart at the seams!!! THE BEES ARE DISAPPEARING!!!! The bees disappearing have nothing to do with fashion week but they do share something in common – they represent the current state of the (fashion) industry today.
We’ve seen the schedules become tighter and smaller - London Fashion Week: Mens neé London Collections: Men was the caped crusader of menswear; at one point spanning five days has been reduced to 3 days for the Autumn/Winter 2018-19 season. Gone are the big hitters – Burberry, J.W. Anderson who have now chosen to follow the same model as Gucci and Balenciaga to show their men’s and women’s collections together. Additionally fashion darling Martine Rose and stalwart are also absent from the schedule.
All together these changes and absences led to a very underwhelming season with a few notable highlights and moments of genius. One plus side of having a very skimpy and light fashion week schedule it makes designers present some of their best work but also the crowd is on high alert for something brilliant and beautiful to come down the runway and take their breath away. For a moment when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and you put away your phone and enjoy what is being shown in front of you.
John Lawrence Sullivan kicked off the first day of London Fashion Week: Mens by presenting a collection drawing its inspiration from psychopathic thriller movies like Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Lynch’s Twin Peaks. The Arashi Yanagawa translated this in looks that featured indigo blue jeans mixed with black leather on the legs, worn leather gilets and jackets that tied on the sides like straight jackets. Yanagawa expanded on his signature palette of black and grey with licks of lavender purples and emerald greens. Plaid printed coats and a leopard print overcoat riffed on Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent which played into the cowboy western theme. John Lawrence Sullivan is what Vetements wants to be but more authentic and less consumer and appealing to the masses.
The spaghetti western American cowboy inspiration was evident at Astrid Andersen. Despite not being alive for the Buffalo movement she managed to captured and replicate the look with a modern, street wear edge that her brand has been founded on.
All the Andersen signatures were there – lace and logo t-shirts and hoodies, ornate and check printed baggy trousers and shorts sent out to a hip-hop soundtrack and Nike trainers. She added the Buffalo spirit through accessorising looks with Stetson hats, lashings of tweed and shaggy wool.
The standout of day two came at the end of day two from Charles Jeffrey’s Loverboy. Charles Jeffrey is currently riding a momentous career wave. Hailed as London’s contemporary Galliano for this generation he’s coming off the back of winning the award for Emerging Menswear Designer at the British Fashion Awards last month presented by John Galliano himself. He was one of highlights of the MAN show for the three seasons he showed before going it alone. Since then he’s gone from strength to strength with a team comprising of the infamous Gary Card. He’s managed to bring the young gay community collectively together, gave them a space to bring their theatre, drama and performance back to fashion shows, educated the young and unwashed about club kid culture but through it all manage to put a grin on the coldest hearted individual in the room.
Jeffrey’s shows have a way of transporting you to another place and making you feel some kind of emotion – this year it was anger and fear. Waiting for the show to start figures dressed in dirty, dusty clothes and chalky white faces came out and began screaming; a woman sat next to me jumped out her skin. No one expected it and for over 10 minutes these figures roamed around the runway screaming and yelling at each other and at guests as they were being seated. Like angry, disgruntle toddlers they threw a tantrum!
When the show started it kicked off with a live band playing a heavy rock version of The Prodigy’s Firestarter instantly transporting us back to the angsty moody teenagers blaring this song out of our bedrooms angry at the world for no reason. As the drums kicked in and heartbeats raced the face model pounded down the runway in a moth eaten double-breasted navy suit fastened with an oversized safety pin – the most wearable look of the collection. Other looks featured an red and blue argyle sweater ballooned and cinched at the waist and a graffiti swiggle print logo long sleeved tee shirt and high waisted light blue trousers with red side stripe on a male model who’s face was painted to resemble Naomi Campbell and a strut to match. The whole time the figures from earlier berate, applaud and react as they walk past.
New to Jeffrey’s vocabulary was the inclusion of tartan midi length skirt suit cinched at the waist and flared at the knee with beret to match or the long length tartan jacket with cropped trouser. All of which were inspired by Jeffrey’s trip to his hometown in Scotland and his Scottish heritage.
This feeling of grunge and the 90s rave culture was evident at Liam Hodges. Styled with cartoon flora green hair and extreme makeup featuring X’s on the eyes and a downturned smile on the lips of some of the models. Models took to the checkerboard runway in cartoon graphics of daisies and ghosts t-shirts layered over thin black and white striped long sleeved t-shirts, bleached striped denim matching jacket and trousers complete with FILA sneaker-boots. Hodges drove home his message of youth and enjoying it while it lasted with a finale that had Baz Luhrman’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).
‘Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth
you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself
And recall in a way you can’t grasp now how the possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked…’
London Fashion Week: Mens a few years later; older and wiser still manages to intrigue, entertain and tug at the heart strings.