LONDON — When the Fashion Times declared this week that brown was the “in” color for men for autumn/winter 2015, one had to ask if the typically grim British weather had affected the view of what is usually a colorful carnival of experimental clothing that the London’s men shows are much celebrated for?
Or will your boyfriend in fact be dressed like one of the muddy puddles in the washed-out countryside found outside the British capital, come September?
The good news is that while the publication may have had a point, the crazy nature of British fashion—consider it a form of eccentricity—was on full show this weekend at the London Collections: Men fashion event, showcasing men’s fashion for this autumn, from young and in-your-face styles to old school bright red suits, and top drawer garb presented by Savile Row celebrating the English gentleman at a grand, old school residence called Apsley House.
At a special presentation at the ICA up the road from Buckingham Palace on Saturday night, the scene was in fact more pretty in pink than military regulation brown. Boys in suits a deep fuchsia color, worn with matching ties, posed like dandies at a party come sophisticated presentation.
Hipster guests, inspired by last season’s ‘Return of the Rudeboy’ exhibition at Somerset House, almost upstaged the models, with their outlandish Afro haircuts, one of which resembled a rounded bun of a mushroom, paired with sharp, off kilter suits, giving a quirky edge to men’s fashion here.
Pink was not the only company to bring a dash of color to the proceedings. Craig Green, one promising young designer, staged his second solo show Monday. He made an artful layering play on utilitarian gear, including an outfit that looked like a boiler suit, decorated in tassels and given a bit of Yohji Yamamoto roominess that looked fetching in lipstick red.
Although I’m not sure how you pronounce it, CMMN SWDN went for bright splotches of orange paired with, say, tartan trousers or turned into a bright bomber jacket.
At Christopher Shannon, a show that garnered much attention for the ominous looking plastic bags worn over the models heads, the funkiness came in the form of a fun play on striped sports trousers. Think bright blue and white sporty looking strips, cut like a dress made of panels through which one could see the model’s muscular legs. The bags were in fact plastic trash bags and a literal play on the designer’s focus on what he dubs “trash culture.”
Home to a number of Chinese designers, Xander Zhou struck gold with his quirky Wild West collection for which some of the jackets featured splotches of sheeps’ wool. Another model rode into town in a shawl of ripped denim wrapped around an outfit, like a cowboy who had visited a designer store en route.
Katie Eary meanwhile sent out pop kitsch and models with clown make-up faces, inspired by Jeff Koons and KAWS (the professional moniker of artist Brian Donnelly). Her models also paraded arresting black bomber jackets with ribs painted in lilac across the torso, inspired by the artists.
KTZ’s clownish military outfits and mosaic designs with fluffy Inuit-style fur around the faces, included portraits of Karl Marx and Mao in their outfits. Think Andy Warhol’s portraits in motion. Some of the bowler hats and all white ensembles on display looked like something from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The white, layered suits with their transparent raincoat-style coats provided a fragile elegance to the attire.
Meanwhile, questions about the future of “normcore” should be directed to Nasir Mazhar. He sent out a collection which he said represented his notion of normal.
What he described as an “in defiance of track suits collection”—thank goodness someone is defying them considering the ugly track suits seen on the high street—included white ensembles that looked like comfy space suits, and blown up puffy bomber jackets paired with padded trousers that might dress an action figure. Paisley-patterned gold and lilac suits were given a genie twist: some were worn bare chested with small cropped waist coats and the trousers cropped in at the ankles.
Shoe designer Louis Leeman made sure there was a certain amount of glitter. Presenting silver and gold evening slippers that sparkled as brightly as the resplendent Pompadour Room at the Café Royal hotel, which is alleged to have more gold leaf than any other room in a London, the Los Angeles designer was celebrating having dressed Golden Globe winner Michael Keaton and Channing Tatum in shoes for yesterday’s event.
“London has such a colorful fashion scene and mix of cultures from Camden High Street to Savile Row that we love presenting here,” the designer said. “It is the only real metropolis in Europe. We cater for every man from Vans (sneaker) style to evening slippers which is hard to find in any one brand.”
Fashion in London will most likely always be somewhat playful and eccentric, from young tyros like Kit Neale, whose collections have featured camouflaged suits shown to an Elvis soundtrack, to out-there designs by Sibling whose monster size knitwear—which looks like Fred Flintstone has been decked out for a fashion show in the Arctic—can currently be seen at the London Fashion and Textile Museum.
To show old-school tradition had its place, Savile Row hosted a special closing presentation featuring lots of warm wool, while one of Britain’s best-known and loved designers, Paul Smith, presented acrobats dressed in his suits flying across long tables. Consider it a metaphor for old school fashion turned on its head.
Away from the main shows, an unadvertised surprise: John Galliano, dismissed from Dior following an anti-Semitic rant in a bar four years ago, made his comeback, with the fashion royalty likes of Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik on the front row.
Galliano presented a surprise couture show of outfits for his new boss Maison Margiela, with bejeweled gloves, off-the-shoulder coats, and monochromatic platforms among the arresting mish-mash of elements within individual ensembles. Hosted in a white office building for a hundred friends, and ahead of Paris’ couture shows later this month, Galliano’s act of showmanship marked his return to the fashion world’s bosom.