The London Beat

The actor Riz Ahmed swayed the afternoon away with great enthusiasm at Nicholas Daley’s Spring/Summer 2020 show this weekend. The sounds of the award-winning jazz group Sons of Kemet spread through the 12th century-built St Mary-at-Hill church and soon Ahmed was not the only one on his feet: everyone was dancing.

Backstage at the Nicholas Daley Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION. 

Meanwhile, as he celebrates his 25th anniversary year, Hussein Chalayan took some of his inspiration cues from South American dance genres – the prints on some of the pieces themselves depicting the instructions for the Tango – and the idea of fluid shapes to echo the body’s movement.

Dance, often a subject of exploration among the womenswear collections (think ballet at Dior), seems to be at the forefront of menswear designers’ minds this season. Loverboy, a brand inherently linked to its founder’s club nights, has quickly gained a cult-like following because of that. Music, and as part of that, movement, goes hand-in-hand with fashion because it’s about feeling.

Chalayan Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photos by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION. 

There was no denying the feeling in the room at Daley; the designer himself got up to give a heartfelt “thank you” speech, citing good vibes, great energy, and happiness. The models and the band who wore his clothes looked great because they felt great, as did the rest of the audience who couldn’t help but be swept up by this feel-good factor. During a time of heightened gloom, in which many designers (from graduates to established) feel obliged to tackle apocalyptic themes, this was a welcome respite – one that was also a personal collection to Daley, though also inclusive to all who stood in the room whether or not you were a fan of jazz (though I suspect many are now!).

Aside from the prints and breezy silhouettes, Chalayan tapped into his musical motif with handheld boom boxes accompanying the models down the runway – each playing a different sound so that as they walked past one another there was an interchange of dialogue. The designer cited “the postcolonial body” as a reference with early 19th century silhouettes, a feeling of sportswear of the time.

Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photos by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION. 

At Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, it was the spoken word that the designer used to underline his points – walking out at the beginning of his show, he read aloud, a ritual that occurred two more times throughout. He was exploring the idea of faults – fault lines for rips and tears on pieces that were more commercial than we’re perhaps used to seeing from him. It was an about turn on the couture-ness of last season. He noted “over-burdened hearts and minds” as the collection’s theme – a narrative that in 2019 we constantly find ourselves dancing around. “A sense of crisis is un-ignorable, but the target’s ever-moving,” read his manifesto appropriately.

Notably, menswear across the board seems to have moved on this season. No longer are we so saturated with sportswear and streetwear; instead we’re seeing clothes that speak of personality, individuality, and history, the eclecticism that has always made London alluring. Everyone is dancing to their own beat.