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August 30 2014

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3 posts tagged "Thom Murphy"

Jo-Ann Furniss On London’s Man Day

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“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” So said Gore Vidal, yet this statement could easily be applied to the best of the designers at London fashion week’s Man Day.

There was something peculiarly British and personal about much that was on offer this season. Our particular genre of sportswear was mined mercilessly. It is something that many of the young designers showing here were weaned on from school age, and it was always much more about style in its appropriation rather than fashion. Christopher Shannon, Martine Rose, Matthew Miller, and New Power Studio were all treading on this territory. Yet at its best, this initial inspiration took flight into something much less nostalgic and into something much more personal and fashion focused—these are fashion shows and collections, after all—spliced together in a hybridized way to become much more theatrical.

This was true of the best elements in Christopher Shannon’s collection (above), which lifted them away from just going through the sportswear motions of “scally drag.” His tasseled pieces had that decorative and tribal element that was also emerging in many of the shows (he explained he had been looking at the African photography of Pieter Hugo), and his “comb crowns” reinforced this peculiar point. Continue Reading “Jo-Ann Furniss On London’s Man Day” »

The Wilder, The Better At London Menswear’s MAN Day

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London, like most of the great global cities, is one divided. The same is true of its fashion, especially its menswear. On the one hand there is the Dickensian decrepitude of the East End, the home to much of the young design talent, who use it as a playground for experimentation. The recently graduated Saint Martin’s and Royal College students rule that particular roost. Up West is seemingly a different story. This is the site of Savile Row, Jermyn Street and Saint James’, with all their sonorous, distinctly English, gentlemanly connotations and the tailoring traditions that are the finest in the world.

On London Fashion Week’s annual MAN Day, devoted exclusively to menswear shows, the surface contrast between East and West is never starker, and this season it was starkest of all. But what emerged in the best fashion was at times a strange shared ethos of extremes. Often, the more extreme the approach, the better.

Topman Design (top left) offered its most accomplished collection to date, with very little high street about it. Inspired by Brassaï’s Paris street photography and the style of gypsy and traveler men, the heavy Harris tweed suiting, paisley silks and a section of naval-braided evening wear harked back to a different era. “Romany princes” creative consultant Alister Mackie called his well-cast boys. “There was an idea of thirties and fifties clothing being worn in the eighties, passed down through successive generations and classes,” he said.”It was a statement of elegance, that made the grimy feel glamorous.” Continue Reading “The Wilder, The Better At London Menswear’s MAN Day” »

More From London’s Triumphant MAN Day

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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.

Photos: Ray Yang / Rex / Rex USA