BY SARA DARLING
Starting the year with a fashionable flourish, the 15th edition of London Fashion Week Men’s, took place over the streamlined weekend of 3-6 January. The watered down showcase was lacking some of it’s previous pulls- no Burberry, JW Anderson, Belstaff or Vivienne Westwood were on the schedule; even Craig Green and A-Cold-Wall chose not to show in Shoreditch.
However, there were some highlights from the London stalwarts, Grace Wales Bonner, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Martine Rose and Edward Crutchley, along with interesting collections from newbies, Ahluwalia, Bianca Saunders, and Pacifism.
From genderless collections to co-ed shows, London excelled itself on the casting of models for AW20, and there was a distinct representation of diversity of shapes and sizes and skin colour; not so much in ages.
Art School celebrating all things genderless, with zombie-like models dragging their bare feet along the catwalk- as a comment on current times. Gloomily optimistic, it is a comment on a liberal future, with fewer boundaries. Design duo Tom Barratt and Eden Loweth, sent out a haunting array of models in combinations of black artist’s smocks as a main feature of the collection, which showcases how versatile this unisex creation is.
Further structured pieces were based on a collaboration with artist Richard Porter, which consisted of detailed sculptures made of rocks, driftwood, rope, fossils and small stones, which seemed to blend on the body as armour.
There was a definite fusion of inspiration in the Edward Crutchley collection, which he described as ‘Glam epoch’. “These clothes are the sum of many parts, many places – an impassioned call-to-arms for a revived internationalism.”
Designing for both sexes, there was a crossover between his and hers, and the atmosphere was decidedly dandy. From English chintz, to Japanese batik, to country and western suiting, the show was pretty moody, with myrrh and turmeric, grey, black and off-white, fighting for attention amongst high-shine oriental prints and crystal embroidery.
South East London might not appear to be the most fashionable district of the capital, but fashion is in the eye of the beholder, and Grace Wales Bonner, who has dominated the menswear scene for a couple of seasons chose Lewisham Youth Club as her inspo.
Her ‘Lovers Rock’ collection for AW20 was an intoxicating innovatory, inspired by John Goto’s reportage photography from the seventies. Famous for documenting young British African-Caribbeans, and their streetstyle of velour Adidas tracksuits and big hair, Wales Bonner dressed her models in ‘60s Savile Row style tailoring, oversized-checked suits, deconstructed blazers (with the lining worn on the outside), and a teddy-bear shearling jacket in chocolate brown and sherbet lemon. The looks were completed with her second collaboration with Adidas Originals for a modern interpretation of tailored casualwear with streetwear influences.
Referring to queer 60s playwright, Joe Orton, the AW20 Per Gotesson show took inspiration from his current home, which also happens to be Orton’s last London residence. An avid fan, Per says “He went to prison because he loaned books from my local library, defaced the covers and then returned them. Someone found out his name and discovered his entire flat was covered in book pages from the library. That’s visually the kind of look I was going for.”
Motivated by his passion and single mindedness, Gotesson explored an idea of community and gender, and questioning the “normal” masculine and feminine roles. This was apparent in aprons, collaged ‘70s images created in collaboration with artist Patrick Waugh, thigh high splits, backless jackets and crushed velvet.
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy
For pure theatre, Charles Jeffrey’s Loverboy collection took place in the Battersea Arts Centre. And although the show started off more dramatically than usual, with models sashaying around a mystical, pagan tree, adorned with CDs hanging from its branches and crowned with a disco ball, the crowd was shocked into attention with the sound of an eerie organ and a woman's sharp scream.
Taking inspiration from orthodox folk festivals, and historical costumes, an equestrian theme dominated the first few looks of the show with models donning Baroque style hair and makeup. Oversized trench coats, dramatic shoulders and cinched in waists were paired with sharp white shirts and ties, for a smart if not slightly OTT urban look.
Models kept coming, wearing a range of checks and folk patterns and candy-floss hair, but the show would not be complete without a couple of references to LOVERBOY the club kid. The LOVERBOY logo synonymous with the designer’s early beginnings, ended his first show of a new decade with optimism, and a new set of environmental commitments.
Celebrating motherhood, childhood, sisterhood, and family, Bethany Williams highlighted the important family bond in her latest collection.
Building on her collaboration with Magpie Project, a charity based in Newham, east London, which supports women and children under the age of five in temporary accommodation, Bethany Williams’ sustainable AW20 was an optimistic expression of future change, and her ongoing commitment to sustainability. Everything in the collection was crafted from organic or recycled materials – from old blankets and bedding and scraps of used tents, to offcuts of ribbons.
Working with illustrator, Melissa Kitty Jarman, Williams used her paintings on primary colour, painted trousers teamed with miniature tops, printed outerwear pieces, tracksuits, parkas along with a range of hand-knitted jumpers and fringed blanket coats.
Having just relocated to London, Irish designer has previously shown under Fashion East, but her first standalone presentation in London did not let her down.
Remembering the Ireland of her childhood, AW20 focuses on isolation, and parts of her country that time forgot, like sparsely populated island Inis Orr. Dressing for warmth and practicality, Lynch continues with her signature layering, mashup of traditional textures and sculpted Aran knits.
This was completed with a green and blue striped print, splashed across sleeves, scarves and trousers inspired by Aertel – the Irish teletext channel- a nod to how things used to be!