If ever there’s a designer to turn any connotations of crochet on its head and, you know, make it cool, it’s Jonathan Anderson. The wunderkind designer – who also works as the creative director at Loewe when he’s not creating his namesake brand – went all fuzzy and warm on us for his Autumn/Winter 2017 collection, one that had a hint of Harry Potter about it, too. This was largely because there was an element of school shirting, only here scribbled as though with coloured pencils but so vibrant that it came across to tie-dye effect. But the main message here was crochet and knit: colourful crochet florals spilling over feet and trailing out as scarves and on bags. It was cosy. It was clever. It was far more wearable and tangible an offering than has been seen from him in some time, even. There’s nothing too scary about a smooth cocoon-shaped bomber with knitted sleeves; there might be something more scary about that crochet for those faint of fashion heart, but that’s the beauty of having options. Crochet patches, fringing, long cardigans (something we haven’t seen in a while among menswear trends); it was romantic and whimsical and an ode to folk and the Seventies (flares the trouser shape of choice) – and that most covetable of bags, his must-have (and I don’t use that term lightly, or often!) pierced style, received an update as backpacks and satchels. Fingers on buzzers, these are going to sell out.
JW Anderson Fashion Show Menswear Collection Fall Winter 2017 in London (by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION)
Arguably JW Anderson is among a handful of designers that kick-started the menswear fashion week scene in London in the first place and it was because his menswear was so successful that he wound up branching into womenswear. Almost an odd twist of fate given the flux of menswear and womenswear right now – show them together, show them at all? Plus, the fact that despite its rebrand, London Fashion Week Men’s own fate has been among the key talking points of this season – do we even need one anymore given all of the above? Regardless, JW Anderson remains a key designer drawing in that fashion footfall and presenting something engaging and new when menswear, these days, can easily slip into standard categories: traditional tailoring, the crazy, the avant-garde (despite appearances, these are in fact two separate categories), utility, street-sport-urban wear.
Chalayan Fashion Show Menswear Collection Fall Winter 2017 in London (by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)
Hussein Chalayan, however, new to the menswear schedule and hosting an intimate salon-style presentation, was one designer who managed to get the balance right. His precision cuts came with just the right overlay of avant-garde: see the subtle slit-and-slices on exacting tailoring, cocoon jackets and strand-trailing trousers. Controlled as always, Chalayan’s aesthetic can sometimes border on the austere but with swathes of knit added to the line-up, it made for a well-balanced offering and an ideal antidote to what continues to be something of a confused menswear landscape right now.
But as you cast an eye among the crowd attending the shows, it’s obvious which camps they fall into: utility and streetstyle-fodder being among the most popular. One can’t help but feel smart – suiting and traditional Savile Row tailoring had more of a heyday a few seasons back when it, too, seemed to have more of a presence on the catwalk.
Christopher Raeburn Fashion Show Menswear Collection Fall Winter 2017 in London (by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)
Among the utility camp, they’ll have found themselves shopping from the catwalks of Cottweiler and Christopher Raeburn, the former with a layered rave sensibility and the latter with a cut and patchwork approach. Agi & Sam felt a little overstyled this season and like it had strayed from the territory we’ve come to know and favour. Where had all the fun gone? Meanwhile Phoebe English looked to inject the fun into the mundane presenting her band of boys in their serene and neutral ensembles as they did the housework. Well, it sure makes those jobs all the more interesting. Those in the market for the more obvious outlandish styles of course look to Sibling; here Gaudi’s mosaic met quintessential Englishness. Exactly. One part pearly kings and queens to another tribal graphic – it was a colourful mash-up.
Maison Mihara Yasuhiro Fashion Show Menswear Collection Fall Winter 2017 in London (by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)
Anyone in the market for a great jacket should look no further than Maison Mihara Yasuhiro – these were standout, be they leather and heavy or dressing-gown-style and draped. Luxe and lovely.
And one couldn’t help but notice this season a lot of those in the audience with their tiny little man bags, purses almost. Autumn/Winter 2017 suggests they might want to switch those up for something that can carry a little more: a suitbag bag for everyday as at Xander Zhou at the beginning of the week kick-started a big bag trend that continued at Cottweiler, Matthew Miller, and Christopher Raeburn.