January 07, 2014 London
They're formidable mash-up artists, which would seem to suit a new generation, one weaned on Wikipedia. Anything you can find down the rabbit hole is eligible to go into the mix. The winning charm of the Casely-Hayford collection was the way it culled from everywhere: youth cultures past (skins, punks, grunge kids), sportswear, proper tailoring (Joe was, for a time, the designer of Savile Row's Gieves & Hawkes), pop culture, and art history. The wood-grain prints referenced Cornelia Parker's Anti-Mass, a sculpture made from the burned planks of a Baptist church, with a largely black congregation, that was torched by arsonists. Casely-Hayford's graphic treatments were inspired by De Stijl. But that didn't rule out scraggly jewelry by the London legend Judy Blame, Hawaiian floral knits, or grungy flannels doubled into alterna-twinsets—long, swingy cardigans matched by shirts knotted around the waist.
It's presumptuous to claim to define a generation. (Lena Dunham is still being raked over the coals in many corners for claiming to want to, even in satire.) But the Casely-Hayfords don't seem to be dictating as much as spinning off the possibilities in their exponential combinations. If that cost cohesion, it paid dividends in energy (aided and abetted by a thumping soundtrack of as-yet-undiscovered local bands you've never heard of). "Things don't always jell perfectly. We like the abrasion," Charlie said. But that suggests a rougher experience than the one encountered. The disparate parts were smoothed into a variegated elegance. There's no better proof than the handful of smart trompe l'oeil two-in-ones.