7 posts tagged "MAN"
Wade with an open mind through the variety of shows and presentations on offer during London Fashion Week’s MAN Day, and you’d have been impressed by just that—variety. From Savile Row smart to Mineshaft sleaze, London’s menswear designers laid out a buffet that could make your palette pulsate with pleasure or leave a bad taste in your mouth. But what was immediately striking about every single designer who showed a men’s collection on Wednesday is how sophisticated they were with their back-stories. James Long, currently anointed The One to Watch, referenced Fuse Boy, a film by the scarcely-known Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, for a collection (pictured) which imagined men in a steamy boiler room, their steam-saturated clothes slowly going moldy. That scenario scarcely impeded appreciation of Long’s masterful use of leather. New Power Studio was inspired by London’s multiculturalism and, at a time when the city feels like it is splintering, there was idealism in a show that offered a cross-section of ages, races and sizes in sportswear that was elemental enough to embrace them all. And, because I’m a fashion trainspotter, I couldn’t help drawing a line from the last look—a be-glittered guy in a shtreimel—to the ultimate fashion idealist Jean Paul Gaultier’s Jewish collection in 1993. Turns out NPS’s main man Thom Murphy is a big Gaultier fan.
If the rest of the world is going to get the picture, it is essential that MAN Day bring together all the strands of the burgeoning British menswear scene. I felt this one did. I’ve already written about Topman and I’ll have more to say about E.Tautz. The ideas they represent—the heritage of Savile Row, the historical romance of benchmark English designers like Galliano and McQueen—clearly provide a framework that is dictating the direction of many younger designers. James Small was so focused on tailoring that he trimmed everything superfluous out of classic men’s pieces. That peacoat? So lean it was mean. Lou Dalton, Carolyn Massey and J.W. Anderson opted for history, a temporal construct (Bonnie Prince Charlie) in Dalton’s case, a personal patchwork with Anderson, with a knapsack laden with roses (below) as one of the day’s enduring images.
And it wouldn’t be London if there wasn’t at least one intensely polarizing presentation. Rasharn d’Vera Agymang and Jaiden James are buoyant twentysomethings who make clothes that are anything but upbeat. With Mad Max apocalypse and Mapplethorpe’s X Portfolio in mind, they produced a collection of fetish leathers that was numbingly literal. Meanwhile, Re:Bel, the magazine they make together, was being distributed outside in the courtyard of Somerset House. It’s an impressive feat, a manifesto that rebuts the bloggy brevity their peers opt for. In fact, Re:Bel looks so substantial that it made the clothes feel like an afterthought. But, from Karl Marx to Malcolm Maclaren, London has always been the city that is kindest to manifestos.
Carolyn Massey is making good use of her Rolodex. The menswear designer’s Fall 2010 collection (pictured, left) kicked off LFW’s MAN day yesterday, with help from some high-profile friends (Little Boots, who created the soundtrack, and Hannah Martin, who created the jewelry). But she also got a boost from one very low-profile one—namely, an anonymous man on the inside who arranged what she described as “unprecedented” access to an archive of military apparel patterns. “It was a way of legitimating the reference,” Massey explained of her studies of the old patterns, which shaped the construction of the collection’s smock tops and flight suits. Not that she didn’t put her own stamp on the clothes. Massey injected petal pinks and beiges into her otherwise neutral palette and moved into prints, inspired by Ray Johnson’s postal art.
J. W. Anderson, who shared the morning runway with Massey, was also inspired by the old—old friends, old lovers, and old iterations of himself, he said, and offered a collection steeped in nostalgia for salad days (pictured, right). Fringed and patchworked coats and bags referenced items made, of necessity, from blankets, while stitched-up Frankenjeans conjured a poor man’s mending. The look was punk-inflected, with lots of plaids and studs, but the attitude was more dreamy than hard. Anderson said after the show that he was in a Joycean frame of mind. Was that a reference to wandering Leopold Bloom? The collection did have a peripatetic quality, and you could almost imagine his men rambling around town in their studded Swedish military boots. Would-be wanderers could get instant gratification: Anderson was offering a selection of items from the collection for immediate sale via www.oki-ni.com, those stamped and numbered boots among them. (The journey’s already begun, apparently—by press time, the boots, were already sold out.)
The literary also made an appearance later in the day, at Tim Soar. In Soar’s case, the idol was Proust, and the idea was the remembrance of things past. (Ah, that old chestnut.) Soar took that notion literally: He explained that he saw his new collection as a remix of the “greatest hits” of menswear over the past 150 years. The argyle sweater, for instance, was updated with leather diamond inserts, and the dress shirt turned up as a sheer blouse. Soar tightened up his proportions for Fall and said after his show that he had based his tailoring on studies of old patterns, which emphasized a front-to-back construction rather than the contemporary side-to-side. Rather less technically, Soar went on to note that his focus this season wasn’t so much on creating “looks” than on creating luxe garments. “I think that’s how people dress, really,” he noted. “They find something they love, and they find a way to work it into the wardrobe.”