Suave, salient and immeasurably slick London Collections: Men certainly epitomized the it in British Fashion this season. Over four days, the AW16 collections unfolded to reveal a line up of bold, clever and thoughtful designs that will have sartorial hounds and innocent laymen baying for blood in the months to come. Overall there was a sense of confidence and attitude: a thoroughly British, slightly grungy and often playful aesthetic which could afford to be irreverent because it was so smart. The collections were many and the quality was high though stand-out designers included Matthew Miller, CMMN SWDN, Alex Mullins, Craig Green and J W Anderson, who’s designs managed to make gold-toothed A$AP Rocky’s attendance at the show feel underwhelming in comparison.
One noticeable trend was focus on the elements and the natural world. Craig Green delivered an acclaimed collection once again. This time he wove his signature sculptural forms closer onto the body with the theme of protection as the inspiration. Buttons and ties were used to beautiful effect, embodying a sense of vulnerability against the elements. This, combined with the natural tones of mossy greens and terracotta hues, rendered Green’s AW16 collection both romantic and ethereal. Emblazoned with a similar mandate, Christopher Raeburn turned to the wild, with a Mongolian inspired collection. Models walked with oversized bum bags, patterned sweatshirts and extreme parka coats, worn open with stand-out rucksacks. Also of note were the highly covetable and timeless bombers mixed against some gigantic shredded ponchos. At Cottweiler, the duo looked to the natural world as well. Inspired by a youtube fetish that involves wading through mud whilst fully clothed, the collection featured high waisted waterproof trousers alongside neutral bomber jackets.
A military thread also ran throughout LCM, embodying the duality of male identity. The duo at Casely-Hayford shook up standard outwear thanks to a re-imagining of military uniforms. Under the title Irregimental Youth, the collection spanned eras, from the ’60s through to skinheads and ’90s rave culture. Long, khaki jackets were adorned with patch-work denim whilst others were split at the back, creating a lizard-like tail that, though perhaps impractical for the commute, was genuinely imaginative and forward-thinking. Notable mention should also go to the vibrant colour scheme inspired by psychedelic images of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album. Turquoise jackets and acid bright suits ensured that Casely-Hayford kids will always bring the party. Over at McQueen, Sarah Burton created a signaturely baroque collection, showing expertly tailored red jackets embroidered with black beads. On Monday, Xander Zhou lent a glam spin to the same theme with a wide-shouldered, cropped jacket.
Christopher Shannon AW16
At Christopher Shannon, the designer took inspiration from suburban ’80s Liverpool, updating the aesthetic and creating a new set of local heroes for 2016. The collection was awash with bright colours. Highlights were the oversized vinyl jackets in plastic pink, crisp, pastel boxer shorts and high neck anoracks with zip detail. The design duo at CMMN SWDN, Emma Hedlund and Saif Baker, drew on feelings from the late ’70s and early ’80s to create a collection around the title Domus.Looking to the warm, comforting feelings associated with ones own home, the pair contrasted the retro influences with modern fits. Key pieces included a pony skin jacket, an orange suede jacket with a signature ‘c’ tag in tortoiseshell on the pocket, and a mid-length leather piece that had audiences weak at the knees. As ever with CMMN, the cuts were dexterous, with silhouettes spliced together in unexpected ways. The high waist, high neck combinations made a particular impression.
Matthew Miller’s much talked about collection elucidated ideas of Nouveau Riche, stripping the term of it’s old meaning and associating it with the ”cultural capital” of his generation. Cropped box jackets were layered over longer out—wear with pieces pulled together by thin straps at the waist. It was a challenging collection, one that drew on the old to traipse over it with new. The stand out design was the Caravaggio ’David and Goliath’ print jackets and shirts which not only embodied his theme but added a heightened sense of unease to the overall aesthetic. As at Agi & Sam, Miller walked both male and female models, compounding the idea that gender-less fashion is the future.
If some designers spent this season searching through history, J W Anderson bucked trends and embraced the pace and power of change. His AW16 show was a melding pot of ideas, influences and aesthetics, underpinned by a re-invention of casual-wear. Highlights included polka dot faux furs, cropped white knit trousers with button detail and silk printed suits. The recurring motif was that of a snail, a cartoonish and ironic nod to the fast-paced fashion world. A cartoon cat from the 1920s also made a recurring appearance. It was an energetic collection, both dark and playful, which will define how men dress for seasons to come.
First published on TWIN 13th January 2016