By now we all know that London Fashion Week Men’s is celebrating five years of existence. And, of course, once again conversation quickly turns to the future of menswear fashion week: how precarious is it? How much longer will it run, won’t it run? Do we need one? Because some designers came, some went, some decamped to Pitti, some combined menswear and womenswear and some opted for the see-now-buy-now format. A lot can happen in five years. It did.
But with all this conversation we forget on a more imminent level, post London, there’s Pitti, Milan and Paris to go. How in tune will London, land of the new and fun and wild (Charles Jeffrey Loverboy a case in point), be with predicting what we might see at the forthcoming cities? Let’s take a look.
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy began the week with a serious show. The kind the PR warns you you’ll be in for a treat with – and then, as it takes hold, you realise you really are: pink cardboard creatures gyrating down the catwalk. This kind of add-on, aka more than just the clothes, seems to have become de rigueur – Vivienne Westwood sending out a parade of performers to show off her latest wares to end the week also. It’s all in the name of the Insta-story, the Snap to chat about, the sharable moment – defined in London by a sort of circus exuberance. Will any of the other capitals follow suit?
The Immersive Experience
Be it Alex Mullins recreating what perfume and scent would look like if it were fashion – daisy prints on his standard Fifties-workwear styles, and scarf-constructed ensembles outstretched as though wafting; or Lou Dalton’s boys in the window – to later take the collection on tour; the “immersive experience” has become the buzzword du jour when it comes to fashion shows. For Dalton, the idea was more pragmatic: here is the solid slice of her collection - her winners - so why bother with a huge collection just because? While for Mullins, the idea added a playful and intriguing new layer to his signature style. Not to mention got us thinking: what does smell look like if it were translated into clothes?
London, of course, lends itself to designers who are known for doing something different – Craig Green is one such one. Adding denim to the line-up this season, he traversed a collection that dealt with this signature artisan and textile element, amping up the exotic for a “constructed paradise” that served as inspiration for his nomads. The denim, of course, was an excellent addition – not least for commercial contrast to the installation-worn pieces that also featured.
Taking A Digital Break
As much as shows are now set up to propel collections into the digital stratosphere, some seek to break away from this on-it-all-the-time culture. “The feeling of missing out from the exchange of digital information and the “like” culture is creating an increasing sense of despair amongst many of us,” pointed out the Chalayan show notes. That said, the collection explored the idea of fashion as digital communication – though it was a concise collection and pristine as always at Chalayan: cut-outs on shirts and a new take on trousers that trailed with details from streetwear and sportswear references.
In the fandom and furore that has surrounded Vetements-Balenciaga and Gucci, it’s the former that has found itself more readily as a point of inspiration among the menswear collections – streetwear still reigns supreme over a lounge luxe, which Gucci tends to promote. Perhaps once we head to Milan and Paris, there will in fact be a move away from the street and into the fumoir? While London was still full of streetwear, one can’t help but think lounge-luxe is due a spotlight. It would actually certainly feel new.