Nataal’s highlights from the AW16 shows at London Collections Men
Launched in 2012, London Collections Men (LCM) is now the established start of the international fashion calendar. Four days of events featured over 170 designers ranging from young troublemakers to Savile Row stalwarts. Trends emerging here – military, androgyny, 70s tailoring, sporty futurism – will be echoing across catwalks until March, and land comfortably into our wardrobes shortly after as the global menswear industry continues to catch up with that of the fairer sex. What London does best is diversity, and the AW16 collections at LCM certainly contained a little bit of what any guy could fancy. Here are 10 highlights.
With their Irregimental Youth collection, Joe Casely-Hayford and son Charlie took us on a gentlemanly stride through Britain’s sub cultures to explore how each has appropriated establishment attire. The influence of Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper was felt through psychedelic prints and gold rope detailing on collars and epaulettes reminiscent of infantryman uniforms. At the other extreme were punky patchwork denims and raver floor-length khaki MA1 jackets. Checked wool suits were fit for mods while grey marl sweats and a subtle Ghanaian print were a nod to contemporary genre-defying scenes. Elegant brocade eveningwear brought us back to the admiral’s quarters, yet worn with Sperry creepers, the duo reminded us that in fashion, a mutiny is never far away.
Jonathan Anderson chose to live stream his show on gay social media app Grindr – the first brand ever to do so – reaching an audience of millions in the process. It made sense for a designer known for his genderless designs and front running attitude. This season’s man, an “urban vampire,” was a cross between a cyber kid and a flâneur. Silky silver pyjamas, long torn cardigans, perorated black leather trousers and fetish gear were festooned in cartoon prints and wonky pockets. Perspex studded chokers added to the overall weirdness. Swipe, tap, favourite.
In Craig Green’s collection you’d be ready for anything – rain, clubbing, the apocalypse – anything, that is, but getting undressed in a hurry. These were clothes that bound and held tight their wearer with elasticated waists, straps, buttons, drawstring hoods, large lacing and belts. Tactile fabrics including cream canvas, burnt orange leather, black PVC and rich green silk were put to work to create either padded forms or utility garb accessorised with wonderfully impractical leather pouches.
GRACE WALES BONNER
Grace Wales Bonner’s star has been rising sharply since she graduated in 2014 - and for good reason. The English Jamaican Londoner concerns herself deeply with ideas of black male identity and the African diaspora experience. For AW16, which she showed as part of the MAN/Fashion East line-up, she turned to spiritualism, the music of supersonic jazz musician Sun Ra and the power of “the choral harmonies sung by slaves in the US” to present a form of sartorial escape. Her models revealed their sensitive sides in a woozy array of 70s silhouettes. Suede tracksuits, high waisted flared jeans, zigzag knitwear and white blouses were further softened by crochet hats, naive embroideries and oodles of jewels pinned to afros, chokers and hemlines.
Image: Daisy Walker
Knitwear pranksters Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery dove into the ring for their battle between Jean Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. The boxing theme was taken to extremes with chunky woollen robes, pyjamas, towel-skirts, blazers and shorts festooned with medals and trophy belts. Knitted boxing gloves, head guards and punch bags – not to mention pulled up socks - were the logical accompaniments. Add to that swirling patterns, animal print motifs and stripes in bright blue, yellow and red and the whole kit and caboodle was less Rumble in the Jungle, more Stitch & Bitch.
Agi Mdumulla and Sam Cotton reflected our troubled times with a restrained colour palate of brown, green, black and blue for AW16. They also introduced girls to their catwalk– a common sight at LCM thanks to fashion’s current love affair with gender ambiguity. Keeping things seemingly simple, theirs was a range of covetable pieces such as voluminous trousers, jumpers with elongated sleeves, over-long bombers, leather vests and raincoats with multiple pockets. Each one whispered ‘wear me now, wear me always.’
Patrick Grant took inspiration from “mid 1980s kids in Edinburgh (who) went to Coasters Roller disco” for his E.Tautz man this season. Think the Eurythmics’s Dave Stewart meets Bobby Gillespie circa early Primal Scream. Loose pinstriped tailoring, generous duffel coats, fat cords, boxy shirts and cashmere knitwear felt posh in lush hues of navy, charcoal, oatmeal and chocolate. Especially when topped off with silk scarves and Christian Louboutin loafers. These boys sit at the back of the bus.
BAARTMANS & SIEGEL
Wouter Baartmans and Amber Siegel transported us back to 1970s New York for their presentation, where models stood among chalky rubble (the raw streets of Spanish Harlem) and exuded the decadence of Studio 54. Hood rats in camel coats, mack daddies in wide lapelled suits and glamorous gals in furs looked on insouciantly. And when they inevitably turned their backs on us, elaborate cockerel and snake embroideries reared into view.
‘Nouveau riche’ is usually a disparaging term but not to Matthew Miller, who for AW16 reimagines the new establishment as the nobles of our age. They are not filthy rich in terms of dosh but instead overflow with “cultural capital” reaped from bygone eras. Caravaggio’s David and Goliath became the central reference, re-painted on canvas, and turned into torn tops. Ecclesiastical gowns were sturdily belted and felted wool suits layered under bombers and bikers. Army detailing and armbands readied these models for a fight.
Christopher Bailey delivered an eminently wearable, grown up collection ticking all the season’s important trends and offering every coat a man would ever need in his entire life – duffel, puffa, trench, bomber, rain, shearling, military, denim, pea, teddy bear, poncho and track. You’d expect nothing less from this luxury behemoth synonymous with outerwear and celebrity style. The show happened on the day it was announced David Bowie had passed away, so Burberry took the opportunity to commemorate him by adding his songs to the soundtrack, Ziggy glitter make-up to faces and the words ‘Bo’ and ‘Wie’ to the palms of model Hayett McCarthy’s palms.