Man Menswear Spring Summer 2016 London
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MAN -- the fashion showcase which has become the launch pad for many of London's biggest menswear names, from Kim Jones and JW Anderson to Shaun Samson and Craig Green -- is 10 this season. And if there was any risk of missing that fact (even after navigating the shoals of balloons and decorated cupcakes at the entrance to the Old Sorting Office), then the opening segment of the show removed any lingering shreds of doubt. The first of the three slots normally taken by new designers was instead devoted to a short greatest hits film, “Man Turns 10,” which took the audience back through some of the showcase's most memorable moments: Cassette Playa's giant Sonic the Hedgehog, Craig Green's driftwood headpieces, New Powe Studio's Morris dancers and dildo hats, Bobby Abley's Disney prints and torture mouthpieces, Agi & Sam's scuba-twisted tailoring.

Inevitably, after that start, the work of the designers in the two remaining slots could easily have felt overshadowed. But both Rory Parnell-Mooney and Liam Hodges picked up threads from that opening film, and found markedly divergent ways of redirecting them into the future.

In Parnell-Mooney's case, it was a wayward version of the abstraction that's emerged over the seasons at JW Anderson, Nicomede Talavera and Craig Green, with tilted tunics and uneven slabs of texture and embellishment. Hodges, meanwhile, took the sportswear language pioneered by Kim Jones, Astrid Andersen, and Christopher Shannon and spliced it with his own immediate, almost clumsy approach. So on the one hand, you had a designer pushing menswear to its most powerfully cerebral extreme, and on the other, a challengingly raw aesthetic that questioned the boundaries of desirability in men's clothing.

Taken as a trinity, the film and shows formed a clear statement about the impact MAN has made on the menswear landscape. From where it began in 2005 to today, its journey has moved beyond the simple issue of redefining modern menswear, to one of questioning modern masculinity itself. It was nice to have a quick, celebratory look back; but MAN, inevitably, will always keep looking into the future. And after Hodges' last model, the rapper who ambled onto the runway summed up the building mood of defiance amongst the city's young designers, spitting out the words into his mike:

“Our generation is beautiful
It suits us to be unsuitable.”

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