Whilst many of the menswear press are in Florence for Pitti U’omo, my mind is still in London Fashion Week: Men‘s mode, and musing of what will be coming next in Milan and Paris to match or rival the creative and commercial trends emerging for SS19. LFWM was far shorter this season which was refreshing after many seasons of four full days however, there has been both critical and supporting thoughts on how the mix of shows vs presentations – and that many of the former big names that made up the schedule that were a hard-hitting draw for the bi-annual menswear showcase – has changed the dynamic. I for one have found the new approach a breath of fresh air, however a couple of brands do need to get their locations in sync with those others close by – showing in W1 when designers either side are in WC2 does not make sense.
Friday started off, for me, with the ASOS Menswear presentation (above) which gave a futuristic, sci-utopian vision of SS19 that looked at transparent pieces, bold pastels and primary colours that blended nu-sportswear with relaxed tailored separates. Presented a top the Ham Yard Hotel (always a winner in my experience for June) we ate BBQ and drank house cocktails before heading to the legendary Phoenix Artists Club for the Topman event (below). Whilst there were no presentations to see, the LFWM social was made even more affable with negroni’s and branded burgers and fries, with a live singer outside to entertain the smokers. Cue a few headaches for the 9am start on Saturday…
Daniel W. Fletcher is not only one of the nicest people in menswear, but his vision is also one of the freshest. For his SS19 collection, Fletcher collaborated with artist Caitlin Keogh in this offering which he named ‘In Search of Sunrise’ – inspired by the normal, working man and the financial and commercial pressures facing the millennial generation. Featuring flares that blurred the decades somewhere between the 1970’s and the 1990’s – and almost reminiscent of sloppily worn Adidas ‘Poppers’ – billowing, beautiful and dandyish shirting featuring the work of Keogh balanced out the corseted style pieces and skin tight vests. A score here was the footwear by Louboutin (and resulting party at Mortimer House) as well as the pop-art inspired briefcases emblazoned with ‘Danny’. London has found a designer it both wants and needs; let’s hope he doesn’t escape to the continent just yet…
Upon entering the brutalist space behind the shite end of Oxford Street, E.Tautz designer Patrick Grant welcomed the fast trickling crowd, “…to my look-book shoot and you are all invited’. As models lined up in 4’s by a vast window overlooking the almost communist style courtyard, another stood in-front of his camera. Between the shutter noise, Grant explained the inspiration behind the collection; focusing on locally milled fabrics and little stories researched from the central Lancashire and Yorkshire areas where the pieces are made. Politically charged banners are a social commentary of the dwindling industrial production into that of a cottage industry, yet they were made with charm and polite poise. The only over exaggerated comment here was the silhouettes and width of the stripes.
How do you fit a hand-full or two of retailers, brands and designers into one fashion show and create a party like atmosphere? Simple! You ask stylist Grace Gilfeather to create a fresh ensemble that represents the best of St. James and open up Jermyn St to the public, who also have the opportunity to watch a show that is ‘See Now, By Now’. This commercial show-stopper has always been a winner for both LFWM and those involved; it isn’t too try-hard, it doesn’t give too much away yet it is very inclusive. Oh, thank you Fortnum & Mason for the scotch egg, and 45 Jermyn Street for the cocktail!
Lou Dalton has mastered the art of THE perfect capsule collection, and presenting it in a compelling way that forms both a beautiful narrative and collection. The naivety of youth on a hot summers day, models were sat romantically on hey-bales wearing the simple pieces that consisted of one style of short and trouser, both in varying fabrics and patterns, as well as including Dalton’s collaboration with John Smedley knitwear. Dalton has always kept things beautifully simple, so it is a shame to find her pieces stocked in London near impossible – let’s hope we see her return as seamless as her ability to create near-menswear perfection.
Edward Crutchley not only had the pulling power of menswear’s big-hitting journalists, stylists and tastemakers on his FROW, but Dior Homme Creative Director Kim Jones also crept in last minute to see what Crutchley has described as his most commercial show yet. The prints were in collaboration with the French artist Lucien Murat, a heady and elevated, if not optimistic, vision that contradicts a lot of his previous work that was a fine balance between the dark and seemingly troubled. High waisted, billowing judo trousers coupled with baseball inspired tailored one-piece, v-neck tops prove that his tailoring skills are still nothing to trouble the menswear pack.
Showing a collection titled Paradise Lost in the almost survivalist, flat-earth theorist minus 8th floor of a grey concrete car park in Soho was perfect for Matthew Miller. As was the focus on sustainability and the recycled; Miller partnered with Californian lifestyle brand K-Swiss to create recycled sportswear pieces from their dead stock; pool-slides were prevalent but it was the customised sneakers that stood out. His familiar pallet of darks returned yet were interjected with rustling silvers and acid green or yellows. Miller has never been one to shy away from social commentary, and at present we are already in his titteringly pre-apocalyptical time zone with a far more relaxed silhouette than previous seasons – and I love it. Let’s hope next season, the Four Horsemen are on the front row.
I had seen Oliver Spencer at Graduate Fashion Week where he had a twinkle in his eye – and I saw him the day after his show at the GQ Style x Browns party where it remained. Why I think? Because he knows this is arguably his best collection to date. Transported to a high-summer, English countryside scene where dandyish men walk carefree in unstructured, softly tailored pieces is where Spencer has helped men to realise the zeitgeist of being ‘well dressed’. Proving romanticism isn’t yet dead, the sounds of carefree jazz tones filled 180 The Strand – and with a pack of simple flax seeds in the goodie bag shows, sustainability is a key theme for Spencer. As always, his casting is on point – with the elegant and incredibly handsome Eric Underwood opening the show.
Overhearing a comment at LFWM if, “…there is any more room for more oversized, recycled hooded pieces in menswear” I think people forget that Christopher Raeburn has done this for nearly a decade. Not that he is a One-Trick-Pony. Asking us to ‘React Now’, Raeburn’s focus was this time on the melting ice-glaciers, with striking photographic prints supplied by NSA of the aforementioned environmental disaster adorning a collection which was utilitarian, protective yet adaptable. Whilst Raeburn’s eco-narrative has not changed, his mascots and collaborators have; for SS19 the panda takes a staring role whilst Timberland provides the commercial clout – and much like the highlight of this season as a whole, the sneakers are on point.
If you have not quite found your style tribe yet, you may just belong to the uniform of Raimund Berthold. Providing the black and light camel in abundance, it was his bags – a ‘See Now, Buy Now’ initiative – which had tongues wagging. Utilitarian has been a long running theme for the designer, but nothing could have prepared us for seeing actor James Alexandrou AKA Martin Fowler from Eastenders on the FROW.
Just a quick note; that the 3.Paradis collaboration with footwear and lifestyle brand Pony really worked. Emotive, the collection was titled ‘Far Away from Home’ however, this is as close to London’s youth culture aesthetic as you can get. Collaged silhouettes, exaggerated utility and exploration of materials and textures made this collection a winner.
The last show of LFWM, and being poorly I missed it, however as you can see Tinie Tempah didn’t strike any home goals on this. Curiously, the press release said this was his year anniversary of What We Wear (WWW) however I distinctively remember collections prior to this. Perhaps I am just getting old. For SS19, Tempah – AKA Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu Jr. – took inspiration from the World Cup that was to start three days later, but this collection of both tailored and relaxed athleisure pieces is always an invigorating and refreshing addition to LFWM that looked at outwear closer than previous seasons – the primary blue fisherman’s coat was a key item – and his relaxed, dropped shoulder jackets were nod to his own sartorial tastes.