Finally cutting the apron strings from the MAN showcase this season is Shaun Samson with his first out-on-his-own offering. Of the new new generation of London menswear designers—the ones to emerge behind J.W. Anderson, Christopher Shannon, and James Long—Samson is the best.
Educated at London's Central Saint Martins, he's a native of Los Angeles and has lost none of the signatures of a Southern Californian. This is much to his credit. You get the sense that he very much knows himself and what he is about, which is not always so clear so early for so many.
His signature big sportswear silhouette is very much in the American vein—here the show opened with a series of graphic looks spun around his needle-punched take on the football (not soccer) top. He experimented with other fabrics, too, such as the felted wool and marl of his tracksuit or iridescent printed denim looks designed, he said, "to resemble the Northern Lights."
Both culturally and aesthetically his background separates him from much of London's same-y clichés. He feels far freer to experiment with volume and silhouette, and to clash and coerce the not-so-familiar subcultures through his own reference points—hip-hop and straight edge seemed the dominant themes here. That said, he also pointed out, "I try never to make it too literal; it is a lot of everything at once. He even worked in AA's "Serenity Prayer" on blankets. "Do people know about that here?" he asked. Well, maybe not as well as they do in California, probably because we're too drunk to read it in London. "I wanted a prayer. There was an idea of counting, monsters, childhood, and prayer. Those things you do to protect yourself." With ideas and technique this good, he shouldn't have any trouble having his fashion prayers answered.