Letter From London: -------
The Men’s Collections, Day 3
London’s final day of shows featured outings from J.W. Anderson, Margaret Howell, Pringle of Scotland, and Christopher Raeburn. It also offered a moment to check out the installations from Fashion East, Lulu Kennedy’s young-gun incubator of emerging talent. Tim Blanks took a tour.
Ben Kirchhoff went back to his London roots with Meadham Kirchhoff’s first collection for men (pictured), not only because he started out with menswear in his pre-Meadham days at Saint Martins but also because, when he first arrived in London, he lived in a squat in the general neighborhood of the imposing Georgian mansion where the duo showed their new work. So that glorious vista of green trees and blue sky (yes, the sun shone for a moment) had once been his. And so had the pell-mell, headily fragranced tumble of clothes, boys, flowers, and skip-surfed remnants with which MK filled the eighteenth-century salons. They’re now a fully fledged cult. The cultists were scarcely disappointed, but anyone else who’s been wondering what might be in the pipeline after the suited, booted sartorial conservatism that many of the fashion boys have been working over the past three days might also catch a glimpse of a possible future in MK’s extravagant wrack of the West.
They were sharing the house with the latest crop of designers that Lulu Kennedy was introducing to the world under the Fashion East banner. Downstairs, Duffy showed his silver jewelry with its occult undertones in a room that could have been built for that purpose alone. And Craig Green, fresh out of Saint Martins, showed eerie, homespun clothes—in calico, cheesecloth, cotton knit, and suede screen-printed to a crunchy finish—which suggested ancient rituals in pagan communities cut off from the world. The Wicker Man was an inspiration. No surprises there.
Ritual also infused Tom Lipop’s tailoring with a colorful Mexican twist, or at least the Day of the Dead did, because his models were made up as leering skulls. The boys were packed away on shelves and in drawers, a memorable way to guarantee maximal impact on a minimal budget. Kit Neale managed the same effect by filling his space with a huge fairground snake, which complemented his extravagant prints (particularly liked the lobster ensemble). Idiosyncrasy, playfulness, and obsession rule in the universe of Fashion East. Marten van der Horst’s heavy-metal mutant T-shirts had all that.