London Collections Men has become over the last few years a new incontournable in the international fashion scene, and a fabulous way to kick off the fashion year. Here are some of the highlights of the London Menswear AW16 season.
Day 1 – Topman Design opened the festivities with a very cosy collection, perfect to snuggle up on the sofa during the cold winter nights. Oversized coats and jackets, beanies that look like nightcaps, sleeves descending way after the finger tips, floating dressing gowns or pyjama pants in brown or purple velvet with devore technique – and a lot of layering – it looks like men will embrace the bohemian night-in trend next season !
Shortly after, Nasir Mazhar offered a powerful collection, strong and monochrome, only using his signature colour for the winter collections – black. The silhouettes remind those of warriors, in a Mad Max meets Revenge of the Ninja kind of way. Alongside the bomber jackets and track pants that looked like padded armoury or bullet-proof items, Mazhar introduced a certain notion of vulnerability via the strappy/desconstructed halter-neck leotards.
Another highlight of that first day was undoubtedly Craig Green, whose collection revolves around his signature workwear jacket, re-invented this season with an oversized yet structured take. Green’s approach to Autumn/Winter 2016, with the thick leather panels tied together by large ribbons, or the military-like jackets with multiple tightening belts in khaki or sand shades, is another example of this « protection » trend that seems to wrap silhouettes like a urban armour.
Day 2 – Deep, rich hues of red on quilted nylon and refreshing pale green knitwear at Astrid Andersen‘s to start off the afternoon of Day 2. Astrid Andersen continues her work creating confident masculine looks whilst questioning gender boundaries via her ongoing collaboration with Sophie Hallette lace. The result is a powerful, structured silhouette with fabrics you just want to get your hands on.
Oliver Spencer stated – and proved! – how music is an inspiration for him. Named « When Rock Rolled with Afrobeat », the AW16 collection invites us on a trip from London to Africa, following the steps of pioneering drummer Ginger Baker. Loose patterned trousers, relaxed tailoring are combined to a very British palette of browns, grey,s dark blues and forest greens, warmed up by touches of red and ecru. Accessories play a key role, with the stylish leather holdalls and faux-astrakan or knitted hats.
Sibling‘s very energetic collection immediately reminded me of this iconic picture showing Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol with boxing gloves on. Pop culture in general, and Basquiat in particular, are indeed the main inspiration behind this AW16 collection. The colours, the prints, the shapes, the knitwork, pretty much everything was a huge treat to the eyes. The designers managed to offer a collection that is both playful and wearable, for most pieces. Bravo!
Day 3 – J.W.Anderson opened Day 3 of LCM, with a perfectly tailored, aristocratically eccentric, and quite innovative collection. The camel coat with studded collar looked just perfect, as did the trench coat with fur strapped across the chest. Other highlights included the silk pyjamas in a rich shade of prune, featuring – as a recurrent item throughout the collection – a pale green cartoonesque snail. The show was streamed live on dating app Grindr, as a way to reach customers beyond the usual fashion communication channels, explained the designer.
Belstaff headed North for the AW16 season, with a presentation that took us on an adventure through tough terrains, snowy mountains and icy glaciers. The collection is all about facing these adverse conditions, and adapt to the ever-changing climate. Belstaff CEO Gavin Haig commented: « The concept of adaptability in our Autumn ’16 (pre) collection couldn’t be more relevant given the unusually mild weather we’re experiencing ». We celebrated the brand’s ability to adapt with a most welcome Bloody Mary, as cold started to creep in in London.
Later on, Jeremy Scott presented Moschino‘s menswear collection for AW16 at One Mayfair, formerly St Mark’s Church. Some said he courted controversy as models walked the runway to a soundtrack featuring Marilyn Manson’s Personal Jesus and Madonna’s Like a Prayer, in bomber jackets or garments displaying multicolour crucifix motifs. This was art – and great design. One of the main inspiration was actually the colourful work of photographers Gilbert & George. Scott said: « There are so many reasons why Gilbert & George’s work resonates so strongly with me: the saturated colors, the slogans, the provocative nature of so many of their subjects. I feel not only a visual attachment to their art but an emotional bond as well. So it’s an honor to bring their art into my fashion and create a hybrid of the two. » The result is an artful collection, mind-blowing and wearable at the same time.
Dunhill presented their winter collection in an old boy’s club atmosphere, at the Savile Club – tailoring at its best, from formal evening wear to more « casual » garments, but mostly blazers. Designer John Ray explained why the blazer is part of the brand identity: “Anytime you research you see men, beautiful men, elegant men, they always own a blazer. Double breasted, single breasted always in blue. There can be confusion with the definition between blazer and a sports jacket. A blazer is always blue, anything that isn’t then becomes a sports jacket. We love the blue blazer, it’s very British.” Impeccable.
Day 4 – Mondays always belong to Burberry during fashion weeks, and last Monday was no exception. Entitled « Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue », as a celebration of the unification of the three Burberry’s ready-to-wear brands under a same name, the collection presented by Christopher Bailey seemed inspired by 80’s schoolboys and students, with duffle coats and school uniform-like suits – and very young-looking models. But Monday was also the day where we all learned the devastating news about British legend David Bowie’s death at 69. As a tribute, two of Bowie’s greatest hits, “Changes” and “Oh You Pretty Things”, were played before and after the show. One model also had his name written across her palms, whilst other models wore Ziggy Stardust-like glitter on their faces.
Sir Paul Smith also paid a tribute to his friend by including a picture of them together, at his presentation that took place the same day. The presentation was set in an installation recreating Paul Smith’s first shop in Nottingham, a tiny 3x3m space where his dog Homer used to welcome visitors. The collection itself is very colourful and sporty, with an obvious 70’s touch that matched perfectly the surroundings.
Some of the best designing talents from LCM will be showcased in Paris at the London Men Show Rooms from 22nd to 26th January. More information on www.londonshowrooms.co.uk.