Mullin’ It Over With Loverboy

Whiffs of Vivienne Westwood costume, Alexander McQueen performance, Boombox club nights, Blitz kids scene-sters, and more to come poured into and out from the melting pot that was the Charles Jeffrey Loverboy collection-slash-show this evening. He’s London’s latest best export, undoubtedly a highlight of the schedule and a helpful reminder of what has always made the capital’s fashion tick: individual style. And here it came for a collection that paid homage to the designer’s native Scotland and explored “the myth of gay pride and confidence,” so his notes explained: ultimately one that was signature Loverboy, taken up a notch by his recent crowning glory, a British Fashion Award for Emerging Talent Menswear just last December. The kid’s got charisma. 

Charles Jeffrey Loverboy FW18 fashion show in London. Picture by Guillaume Roujas.

And so do his clothes. Take away the theatre and performance we saw tonight – though clearly so integral to the spirit of the label that began life as part of a club night held by the designer in Dalston – and this was one of his most wearable collections yet, even though the on-the-box description might not seem so for sword-slashed Elizabethan regalia coupled with grand graphics and cartoon splendour, reworked tartan and kilts, louche tailoring, and a mix of Christian Dior wasp waists among mid-century menswear. But then it wasn’t really about that. It was about being you. It was about being unabashed, loud, and hedonistic. 

Charles Jeffrey Loverboy FW18 fashion show in London. Picture by Guillaume Roujas.

Which calls into question the complaint of late that the menswear scene generally is not all that compelling. The first weekend of January, and a working one at that, and chatter can be quick to drift into disdain. That’s something that can’t be said of Loverboy. He is compelling. This was; with cheers quick to descend through the darkened car park venue, transformed as a Gary Card set design. Sure, it’s not like what he’s doing hasn’t been done before – see the aforementioned opening references, add enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier, too – and spectating on a surface level it won’t be for everyone, falling into mainstream culture's “zany” category of menswear fashion, a term that so often likes to rear its head (via a tabloid paper). But it’s as we now move beyond the decade anniversary of London’s last real style-fashion-scene movement, Loverboy is at least going some way into cementing his own. 

Alex Mullins FW18 fashion show in London. Picture by Guillaume Roujas.

Earlier in the day and another name to note was Alex Mullins, whose retro-tailoring and sunny outlook on menswear has been scene-stealing for some time now; he, too, a Central Saint Martins graduate, followed also by time at the Royal College of Art. Over the years, his small presentations have transformed into packed-out shows. It’s no wonder when sunglass-worthy tie-dyed suiting takes to the catwalk, shirts smothered with mosaic work to give a decidedly summertime spirit to the Autumn/Winter 2018 season. The designer noted an ongoing interest in a timeless wardrobe as source reference, even going so far as to photograph smashed plates featuring previous seasons’ muses and printing them onto pieces so as to create flashbacks. Pretty clever. And pretty topical given that collections, as with genders too, are blurring into and out of one another season on season. This made for a strong output from Mullins who is surely among the handful of London’s most interesting menswear designers right now.