Christopher Shannon dedicated his show tonight to his mentor at Central Saint Martins, the late Louise Wilson, and it could have been her speaking when he complained that "no one does anything anymore." By which he meant that young designers now tend to resort to the ease of the Internet, putting things together onscreen, whereas the graphic collages that gave his new collection its personality were made by hand, bit by bit. Professor Wilson, always a staunch critic of digital convenience, would have been proud.
But that's Shannon all over, bucking the trends, contrary by nature, shy and retiring to a fault. Which makes it all the more remarkable that his specialty is a brash, exaggerated, even sexy take on the sportiest of sportswear: sweats, shorts, anoraks, and layers of oversize tees. Tonight was no exception. Ground zero for his collection was apparently an emo teen's bedroom. Shannon mentioned scrapbooks and sticker books and the random collages on a teenager's bedroom wall as references pointing toward the careful construction of an adolescent identity. It was an endeavor that Raf Simons might recognize and, as with Simons, there's often something poignant in Shannon's work. Youth inevitably passes. But there's also an undercurrent of tongue-in-cheek slyness that runs through his presentations, last season's
cigarette-packet knitwear being one example. This time there was a black onesie that zipped all the way up the spine. Surely you'd need an Other to do that for you. The same curious vulnerability was on display in shirts and shorts with random patches cut out to reveal the body beneath.
Last week, Shannon was the recipient of the first BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund, with its pot of 150,000 pounds. It was wonderful that he was the winner, and the money will obviously grease the wheels of his business, but it's hard to imagine that such recognition from the nabobs of the mainstream will draw Shannon into the fashion fold. OK, for the first time ever, he took a bow at the finale. But it lasted a derisory millisecond.