If you’re a dedicated It’s Nice That podcast listener then you may have heard a disgruntled Rob Alderson utter the words “it’s all just a bit confusing really, isn’t it?” in last night’s instalment, midway through our chat about London Collections: Men, the mens’ fashion spectacular which is currently sweeping through London. To rectify not only the general bewilderment about what exactly LC:M is, then, and to bring to your attention the shows we thought stood out the most, we thought we’d bring you roundup of our five favourite shows and the designers creating them.
Agi and Sam
Fresh from winning the British Fashion Award for best emerging menswear designers a couple of months back, Agi and Sam surprised show-goers with a collection mainly in black and white. Inspired (as Style.com informs me) by Agi Mdumulla’s recent trip through Masai territory to trace his heritage, the collection saw traditionally Western garments, “double-breasted coats and tailored suit jackets, for example—transformed by the addition of long, flowing layers, like those worn by African tribesmen”, executed in sharp black and white, in an exciting new direction for the usually colourful pair.
How did he do it? How did Christopher Bailey, the creative director of Burberry, know that all we really wanted this to was see the long overdue revival of the string vest come to fruition on lots of tall men with dangerous-looking cheekbones and blankets slung nonchalantly over their shoulders while carrying ostentatious carpeted man-bags? It’s a mystery, of course, but the important thing is that he did. Leaf prints a’plenty and lots of cosy blankets in this one! Why? Because Christopher Bailey knows what’s up. That’s why.
Casely-Hayford is (to my knowledge) a one of a kind in the London Collections: Men shows, as the brand is headed up by a father and son duo, Joe and Charlie Casely-Hayford, who have a wealth of experience in traditional tailoring and styling hip hop stars respectively (among a bunch of other things). The result is a uniquely informed and yet determinedly forward-facing brand with an infallible eye for combining seemingly diverse references. This collection trawled happily through London sub-cultures of years gone by to give them a fresh and appealingly contemporary feel in an authentic blend of new styles and old influences. These guys.
J.W. Anderson’s offering, the first since he became creative director of Spanish label Loewe, was not only a distinctly more polished affair but also a brilliantly unisex one. Unflinchingly high platform shoes were matched with what he refers to as some granny-like additions in the form of brooches, bags, frilly blouses and jacquard prints – so should any J.W. clad lads feel inclined to start sharing their apparel with a nearby lady, whatever her age, they can. Perhaps not your actual Gran, though. Warm textures, soft tones and collar shapes lent the collection an interestingly feminine edge, which went down well in a sea of masculine tailoring and serious shapes.
Arguably no designer made a show more London-appropriate for AW14 than Topman Design, who celebrated the inherent style of a city where it inevitably starts to piss it down with rain every time you think about going outside, with a whole selection of sopping wet outfits. And they still looked chic, too! Even better, just when you thought the clothes couldn’t be any slicker, or the hair any shinier, Topman kindly made it rain onto the catwalk. Excellent.
The celebration of British style went further than just alluding to the weather, however; duffle coats, tartan highlights and a whole range of sharp tailoring pulled together diverse elements of London’s history to create a wonderfully complete, and damp, collection.