(above image: J.W. Anderson AW17) “London Fashion Week Men’s” came to stomp all over your feed these past couple of days and you just knew it was going to be an interesting edition, being the first London menswear collections created post-Brexit. Whether the designers countered feelings of political dismay with unbridled optimism, rode the wave of their emotions or went a different route entirely, each perspective had its own specific beauty to offer.
Here’s what stuck with us most during #LFWM (you know they left the name ‘LC:M’ high and dry in 2016).
For ‘Spirituals II’, Grace Wales Bonner meditated on the power of street-preachers, Renaissance religious imagery and boys from Dakar. The collection showed great diversity in disciplines (leather, Stephen Jones head wraps, embroidery) and ideas (from a signature Wales Bonner cropped-trouser velour outfit to crumpled suits) yet remained cohesive. There were women’s looks mixed in, as has become prevalent, and I’m going to need at least ten looks from this collection.
With shredded European Union and pride flags draped across the models’ faces complementing the blue-collar workwear-inspired garbs, the symbolism at Christopher Shannon rang cosmic boom-levels loud. The designer has made it perfectly clear that these are trying times. But by riffing on iconic logos from brands like Timberland, Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss, the designer injected the overall concept with humor and self-ridicule (his initials signifying ‘Constant Stress’) and swerved the wheel decidedly towards the bright side.
For AW17, Jonathan Anderson presented his signature play on volume but contrasted it with an aesthetic set somewhere between stained-glass Westminster realness and your nan’s iconic crochet throw blanket. With the help of stylist Benjamin Bruno, there’s seemingly no end to what Anderson can somehow make covetable.
Wherever these satin-shirted, side swoop-coiffed lotharios are headed, I’m on their trail because this collection really latched onto me. Stretching the concepts of different male archetypes such as bankers and bus drivers, the expert tailoring Martine Rose has become synonymous with shone through in each strangely sensual silhouette.
The Judy Blame-styled AW17 Sibling collection offered up a full meal by completely unifying womens- and menswear. Trousers with clown-fish fringing, cheetah tail prints whipping across multiple pieces: a summer spent in Barcelona inspired designers Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan to no end and culminated in a feast of prints and knitwear techniques. Diverse and savoury, like Eixample tapas, but more filling and vastly less rage-inducing (you know I don’t share food). CHARLES JEFFREY Charles Jeffrey and his label Loverboy sent hemlines and Twitter fingers flying during his MAN designer collective AW17 presentation. It was theatrical – the show featured ‘mud people’ choreographed by Theo Adams – but the tailoring remained cut-throat and cleverly inspired by historical fashions. Don’t let Jeffrey out of your sight. XANDER ZHOU “We are young but we are no longer children”, that’s how Xander Zhou introduced his ‘I’m Carrying a Secret Weapon’ collection to the press. If I ran military intelligence services, you know I’d tap Zhou to design intimidating workwear because this collection was ice cold. MATTHEW MILLER With a collection named ‘Fear Itself’ - featuring models with stylized nosebleeds and bloody tears - paired with Miller’s outspokenness on the Brexit topic (even his website country code is .eu), Matthew Miller AW17 deftly embodied the political climate and the fears it has brought to the surface. It’s dark but not defeatist (the models brandished flags of resistance as the show closed) and the inclusion of womenswear, once more, combined with the survivalwear fabrics signals a mostly keen gaze towards the future.
In the very early Vivienne Westwood days, runway shows would always be a mixed affair of womens- and menswear and it's a telling sign that this concept was wholly reinstated for AW17. Showing 61 looks with many recycled particles (fabric from Les Ballets Russes, gift wrapping paper from Christmas), this new/old Westwood was a most invigorating affair and the prints of Dame Viv leering at you from tops and frocks an effective reminder of who the original punk queen really is. In a personal message, Westwood explained how important this collection, called 'Ecotricity', is to her and that it's the best idea she's ever had. Ecotricity is the name of Westwoods favourite company and she explains that by switching to their kind of green energy, you revolt against the political status quo. The crowns worn in the show symbolise the people's power and how the world should not be ruled by the few. (If you'd like to learn more, go here).