Statements of Subversion

Day three and LCM threw some great spanners in the works with JW Anderson starting us off with his most subversive menswear collection yet: it was wearable! There were no too-hard-to-think about ideas here so much as there have been before. Men won’t be baffled by what they saw as much as they have been; they’ll want to wear it – and the girls will be clawing the bags off their shoulders. Here, Anderson cleverly sent out man bags in clashing colours with looks. It worked in the context of the catwalk, which riffed on Peter and The Wolf, and it will work in real life for the aforementioned reason. Girls like their bags, but hey the boys looked great toting them around here too.

But aside from that Anderson presented trench coats, linen shirts decorated in dripping paint, jigsaw-printed shirts, knitwear whose sleeves trailed – it was all magical and childlike just as the designer had intended. Boilersuits, goggles, and the odd button-down skirt joined the line-up but for the most part wide-leg cropped trousers and a take on tailoring meant that by keeping things tame, Anderson made one of his most daring moves yet.

 


JW Anderson Spring/Summer 2017 menswear show, London, by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION

 

Next up was CSM alumnus and star very much on the rise Grace Wales Bonner. She’s quickly ascended the ranks of menswear – winning the CSM L’Oreal Professionel Talent Award in 2014 and scooping herself a British Fashion Award just last year. She’s also on the shortlist for this year’s LVMH Prize. That’s an avalanche of a successful two years.

But it’s not surprising. Since that graduation collection she’s coined a strong aesthetic which you can immediately identify as hers: it takes some designers years to do that as they schizophrenically waver between seasons, creativity, and commerciality. Not so here. Here she said she presented characters of Pan Africa in a collection that so beautifully plundered the past to deliver elegant tailoring, crochet details, and touches here and there of chandelier embellishment. Always underpinning Wales Bonner’s collections is an exploration into black sexuality and masculine identity, blending European and African style to make for a luxury hybrid.

 

Wales Bonner Spring/Summer 2017 menswear show, London, by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION

 

There may be “big” names missing from the schedule, but when you have names like Wales Bonner, Craig Green, et al peppering the schedule, one can’t help but wonder how much that matters. And I refer to my earlier post on why we should be celebrating London Collections Men – revelling in what it has to offer and not worrying about what it may or may not be missing.

 

Christopher Raeburn Spring/Summer 2017 menswear show, London, by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION

 

Christopher Raeburn is another designer who’s nailed his aesthetic and work method, and he compounds that season on season. Today he was looking at the Race for Space as inspiration alongside George Lucas’ film debut THX 1138 for a collection that provided for the girls and for the boys in lunar graphics, bomber jackets, shorts, and sweatshirts adorned in graphics. What one has to love most about Raeburn is that you always look at the clothes, the fashion, first, then become impressed by it and realise how it’s all made: Remade, in fact.

And while all the aforementioned wandered along the tame and wearable, the day wasn’t without the totally crazy. Small segue – knees seem to be the erogenous zone of choice this week, KTZ showed them off with cut-out trousers just as Nasir Mazhar had via ruching earlier in the week. Take note. Or don’t.

 


Aitor Throup Spring/Summer 2017 menswear show, London, by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION

 

But it was the heavily billed return of Aitor Throup that had the fashion crowd perplexed on Sunday night. An email pre-show warning of loud explosions during it was surely the first sign. The next? Five folks all dressed in utility white with masks moving to the centre of the room and seemingly blowing up a heaped pile on the floor. The heap? The first look of the collection, which, when it was Frankenstein-style brought to life by their gallant efforts, heaved War Horse-like down the catwalk and everyone fumbled for the picture in a moment of bemusement. They kept coming as more models – though this time in the truest sense of the word – came down the catwalk. It was eerie: this figureless figure. This lifeless life. The explosion came and went before the finale of all the pieces hung – again a little eerie; actually a little scary – at the end of the catwalk.

Aitor’s show notes were a personal declaration of his "creative ego," his dissatisfaction, his epiphany, his resolve. The fast-track answer is that the pieces shown tonight were trans-seasonal prototypes that will be available from Dover Street Market and that will inform a more commercial output next year.

The whole performance was an interesting move considering fashion is throwing its arms up in the air right now about how best to present collections. Given that this show was a real show with three whole acts, it's unlikely this will catch on. But it was another spanner in the fashion works. Who knew Sundays could be quite so eventful?

 

Follow the latest fashion updates with our exclusive coverage of London Collections Men in NOWMagazine.

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