London Fashion Week Men’s unique Twelfth Night
Think of this coming weekend in London as a Double Hitter Twelfth Night. Both to celebrate the epiphany and kick off London Fashion Week Men’s. Despite the naysayers, and a number of brand’s amalgamating their menswear into their women’s shows in February, the season has kept going strong. Indeed, the four days boast a good half-century of runway shows; presentations, fashion luncheons; pop up parties; creative collaborations and lock-ins.
“That’s what happens when you have the opportunity to drink after hours. And the hardcore remain on to party,” chuckles Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council which organises London’s four annual fashion weeks.
With golden German beer Warsteiner as one of the week’s sponsors, the LFWM Official party will be in an old pub on The Strand. Though, Friday night every hipster in menswear will head to Shoreditch High Street for an event billed as J.W. Anderson Workshops X Alasdair McLellan Part 2, the latest linkup between the brilliant young Northern Irish designer and McLellan, the photographer, noted for his naturally-lit, faux-casual aesthetic.
The key element in the UK scene will always be edgy young talent – often from distant shores. Like the much-anticipated latest collection from John Lawrence Sullivan, despite his name a Japanese ex-professional boxer called Arashi Yanagama, whose voluminous fantasy tailoring is much admired. While in the battle of avant garde tailoring, key shows will be Matthew Miller, partly sponsored by Warsteiner, and Wales Bonner, the former LVMH prize winner whose sleek linear silhouettes and assemblage of Western tailoring and African motifs have made her a bona fide star.
“London’s greatest strength is raw talent. That’s why the media and retailers come – to discover the new. We have such a brilliant wave of emerging talent. That, and our great heritage brands,” argued Rush, listing rising stars like Craig Green, Charles Jeffrey, Liam Hodges, Alex Mullins and Art School as other names to watch, parallel to heritage houses like Kent & Curwen and Belstaff.
The UK’s fastest-growing classically commercial brand is very much Kent & Curwen, the Chinese-backed and David Beckham-fronted house. Under well-travelled designer Daniel Kearns, Kent & Curwen has grown into a red hot label. This Sunday it fetes its latest ideas with a lunch in the West End, and an evening presentation. Call it heritage with a twist – seeing as guys have been sporting their signature rugby sweatshirts with the 1926 English rose crest everywhere from après-ski in Val d’Isère to after-parties in the Meatpacking District.
London has attracted fewer non-British stars this season, but will still welcome Romeo Hunte, the emerging New York talent noted for dressing Zendaya and Beyoncé. He is planning a London pop up in the fashion forward retailing concept store Wolf & Badger in Notting Hill. Notably, Vivienne Westwood returns to London, though only as a digital presentation.
Fashion loves a good collaboration; and the king collaborationist himself Henry Holland has a new project, unveiling a capsule range, Ben Sherman X Henry Holland, a 29-piece array of polos, jackets, denim and, but of course, button-down shirts. “It’s such an iconic British brand with such a rich history in music and street culture,” says Holland, who will dip back into Northern Soul music of the 1970s for inspiration.
A cultural exchange of American music and North of England dance steps celebrating inclusiveness. Unlike Brexit, which continues to overshadow London fashion, which polls pre-referendum showed was 95% against leaving Europe.
“We were very much against Brexit because we feel very connected creatively to Europe. UK and European talent work here and on the continent together from CEOs to pattern cutters to designers. If we are going to continue with Brexit, which sadly we seem to be, then we want to be sure that British talent can still travel and work abroad and vice versa. That we have frictionless borders – without any tariffs,” argued Rush.
Expressing a common London fashionista view in favour of being locked into Europe - and not locked out!
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