LFWM: From survival chic to the new sensitivity
Maybe it’s all the talk and tweets about who has the biggest nuclear button between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un? For one overriding trend in London Fashion Week Men's (LFWM) this season was Survivalist Chic. Never have so many models been so wrapped up by so many designers. That said, even in a post-apocalyptic world many men will still bear logos – as signature branding was all over the catwalks. In counterpart, there was also a kinder, gentler fashion mood, best epitomized by the season’s stand-out show – Wales Bonner’s Créolité collection. We analyze five major trends of the London Fashion Week Men’s after a busy four days of some half-century of runway events and presentations.
Survivalists with adventure
Craig Green termed his valiant display as: “Nomadic men reach new frontiers of self-discovery.” And the designer showed Shaman style multi-layer corrugated cotton hooded coats, and being British one came with a Union Jack pattern. Belstaff – which had a great display of vintage biker jackets, including Steve McQueen’s personal 1963 four-pocket Trialmaster – showed technical tri-layer stretch nylon jackets that looked perfect for a ride across the Artic. While an audacious show by Christopher Raeburn included tough guy clothes in the boldest of prints – RAF helicopter winchmen coveralls that morphed into parkas, coats and trousers – albeit in orange neoprene. While you had to love the new Ugly/Boys aesthetic from happening label Jordan Luca with its protective one-piece nylon, padded cap and scarf items.
Ever greater volume
Raeburn had humongous topcoats made of Russian naval blankets. And the hip Chinese duo of Pronounce sent out massive, floor sweeping nylon down great coats. Alex Mullins ballooned up parkas and cut trench-coats like ball-gowns. Astrid Andersen’s cowboy romp featured triple-width jacquard trousers, while her bespoke fur collection with Saga Furs featured “air gallon” techniques that led to knitted fox coats that almost floated off the torso.
The new sensitivity
Best exemplified by a great fashion moment by Grace Wales Bonner, a tale inspired by a young man returning from Paris to his native Caribbean island. The result was cutting and silhouettes worthy of Yves Saint Laurent, as poised gents marched languidly about in big-button, minimalist navy pea coats with flared sailor’s pants. FYI - her soundtrack was Albinoni’s Adagio played on steel drums. Kiko Kostadinov staged his show in the central offices of Britain’s peace-loving Quakers; his invitations all tiny cut flowers wrapped inside plastic envelopes; and his show was entitled Obscured by Clouds. And though Kiko mainly showed techy athleisure, there was a charming gentility about his nylon track-pants, playful anoraks and micro strait-jackets.
London’s hottest men’s label, David Beckham’s Kent & Curwen, had logos on practically every look – faded embroidered roses with the year of the brand’s founding, 1926; thistles with K&C; Three Lions and even mini profile big cats. Raeburn’s heroic cast came plastered with signature name straps; while the season’s biggest collaboration, Ben Sherman x Henry Holland, had cool new Ben crests.
The Demise of Classical tailoring
The London menswear season used to be awash in classical tailoring from worthy old firms based on Savile Row. This season, they were strikingly absent, as new generation designers whipped up far bolder fare: from John Lawrence Sullivan with his elongated Yakuza gangster suits to Alex Mullins' tie-dye cord fantasies cut as long as a zoot-suit. The Crown might be Netflix's hottest TV series, but Old Blighty tailoring is dead.
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