London Fashion Week- Men's day
A COMPREHENSIVE SHAKE DOWN OF THOSE IN CHARGE/TO BLAME
LFW now boasts a proper full day of menswear. Out of manners I did every show. Also because The Sunday Times Style asked me to. I interviewed on video every blessed designer. Exhausting but good. I even made first show on time. Partly keen, but also was lured by an audience with the fragrant Miss Carolyn Massey. Frankly I don’t bother with tickets at LFW men’s shows. I’m not being arrogant, but I’m 39, I’ve been doing this a while, and ‘If I’ve turned up -let me in- I don’t do queuing’ is my policy. Fair enough, no? It works. (Even with my entourage of two that I acquired before midday it works. Jo who was working with me woke at 9.30 a.m. in Surbiton. Jo, the clue's in the title. London Fashion Week. Get yourself up the metropolis sharpish young 'un. Sanyika also joined late).
With LFW known as creative hot-futon, but not exactly a formidable financial concern, I asked designers about their inspiration, the origins of their product and how much of an eye they had on the coffers. I do hope it wasn't boring of me .
(Click on designers for links).
Once installed on the front row the show functioned nicely in various greys. ‘Anonymous military donor’ sounds most fascinating in the release, but Massey would yield no information. The results were some great and trench coat inspired smartness looking dead good, and felt like slightly new foray for her. Also working are Massey’s shawl collar cardies and waffle knit accessories. Note all-in-one romp suit, ‘for weekends’ apparently. Like her knits, like her colour balance, like her glasses. Not sure men need a brooch quite yet. Massey was duly collared and questioned.
J.W.Anderson showed what I thought was ‘Agro Highland wilderness folk-punk’. It was thoroughly engaging. Snatches of mad Shetland chiffon cable/argyle crossover & tartan bondage, then very wearable outwear anorak hybrids . He says this comes from 'moments and people'. This is a lot to pack into a show, but he did it. I nabbed Jonathan where he explained it all far better. The wild beasty Swedish military boots were notable.
-The Savile Row Special-
A schlep/dash (a schlash?) across to Savile Row in the rain didn’t dampen spirits. It did dampen one's Ferragamo’s and caused one to sweat like a rapist however. Not a look for Hardy Amies gaff where the three Row shows were held. It was attended by HRH Prince and Princess Heinkel of Kent and Lord Freddie Windsor, (key aristo's). The juxtaposition with some key press was amusing. Freddie looks a little Frankensteinian at times, don’t ya think?
We viewed the first Hardy Amies collection under Oliver Benjamin, who’s stayed nicely on brand. See interview and footage of young chaps turned out most dapper. Well done.
After tea, scones and some more tea and sandwiches with no crusts, the HRH mob filed in and we saw Gieves. Joy Division wafted up through a chimney breast in muffled manner, as classic fabrics got cut in a sharp Eighties manner. Liked suiting angles. Pleated leathers trousers, demi-bolero length jackets, prints and parkas Freddy Willems explains…
Patrick Grant's presentation was charming as it was entertaining. He was quite magnificent and owned the whole bloody proceedings, royalty and all. That's what an Oxford University education and a Number Eight's physique does for your confidence. For trad' Row, no one's near him right now at Tautz. Strong English lines, seriously authentic fabrication and build. A great export all round for British fashion. I am getting on a bit though mind. Pat, nice one. (Do watch him styling it out like something from the Forties at the end of the clip).
Back to the BFC HQ at Somerset House for some more London trendiness. Brace yourself men, anything could happen.
With his 'Alpino Dalstano' , the boy Shannon appears to be doing some pretty savvy outerwear and sportswear if you ask me. Great cement and navy shirts-track hoods. He wasn’t asking me, frankly, and couldn’t have wanted to be interviewed less. I rate this bods work regardless of 'Mardy' interview technique, (note authentic use of Scouse slang) .
More up for a bit of fun both on and off the runway was young James Long. A boiler room based dream was his vision, and he saw it out in surprising textures for an industrial scenario. He also offers advice on how to do boiler suit chic. More of that specific later.
BOILER & TRACK SUIT DEPLOYMENT, iD STYLE
Elgar Johnson and I had a banter about this pivotal matter. We don't agree. His ethos is pure, but too idealistic. No one wants to wear a bad track suit, right? You do have to think when selecting one. Opting out is a fashion statement too, Elgar. I'd like to see your jump/track collection, I bet they're not random. The best tracksuits are Lacoste cuffed bottom mono-colour affairs. Style fact. And your choice Mr. Purist Johnson?
Next, in a poorly policed and over crowed subterranean medieval cloakroom, not for the first time at LFW it was getting rather packed up the back passage. MAN is the Top Man sponsored new designer show case that frequently goes over my head, (or makes me laugh said head off). Fashion is about entertainment remember, so this is fine.
Cutting edge British fashion often polarizes into either fantasy ragga/jungle or gothic Bauhaus bondage. We saw both poles in fully blown mentalness. The third offering was something rather clever in its balance and level.
‘Marabou Stork Nightmares’ was both off the hook and off key, in a good way. This was about the old skool matching pattern shirts and jeans ghetto lick, and she’d taken it further. Acid colour fake croc sets and zombie tooth regalia. I like it, but some of my pals busted the original stuff, and now they’ve grown up. Does make me wonder who out of fashion land would wear this? You don’t see 'em doing faux ragga down the Kingsland, do you? Only in their silly mags. Quote from press release ‘held prisoner by your past the only way forward is to search and destroy.’ Is that wise Kate?
‘Mad Max meets Tom of Finland’ in fully blown bondage Gimp chic madness. Commenting on the state of the planet apparently, which I find hard to read. They’re allegedly a cult. They have their clients, such as Ga Ga and other loonies, and they’re not compromising. Fair dos, at least they're clear on what their brand is about. Patrick Grant who was sat next to me seemed strangely transfixed, perhaps future fetish struck a distant cord somewhere. One model bled black tears. Of pain in those heels or just shame at his wig? Think they should approach Pledge polish for sponsorship with all that leather and rubber; it'd buff up ever so nicely.
The evocatively named Donkey Monkey collection appears to be a modern reworking of the donkey jacket. Ragga picket line chic in parts, jungleist retro dustbin men in others. All about the variety of cultures and people in London, held together by an even handed approach to colour and shape. Really simple, really liked it. OK, you'll note one bloke with a drum on his head, but this is LFW, so allow. ‘Night of the living baseheads"(Click) reference perhaps? (Kindly ignore my gaff about disability wagon on video). Free up the Papal styling on the old geeza!
Back into W1, Soho. Soars stuff gets on my wick on occasion. Too many authentic Fosters menswear pleated trousers to be useful. I like this show. I like camel. I discovered I like Sou’westers. Camel, argyle, leather appliqué and snow wash denim: Derek Trotter I presume? The old two jackets/one outfit move we could live with out, (stylist to note).
Sometimes this is good, sometimes it’s a little sycophantically earnest to runway trends. This particular Top Man Design show (click for vide0) was fully blown menswear mustard. I was sat next to Philip Start of Start in East London. He really knows his menswear. He agreed this was brilliant. The fabrics were amazing, better than what I saw from Milan’s finest. The shapes rivaled Burberry's outerwear (of which there were many echoes to be fair). This almost WWII military outerwear interpretation looks well fanciable. I’d wear it and I’m an enormous jacket snob. East Berlin Boys was the story, (this appears to translate into little knitted hats worn on back of head. A current must for trendies) . Enough for three runway shows here. Gordon Richardson you just whipped the competition's arses, except there is no competition. This is quite mad for ‘quasi-high-street'. Maybe menswear needs another TopMan to really get things going? I snatched seconds with Sir Philip Green, and a banter with the buoyant Mr. Richardson straight after. Green is backing G 100% with 'a free rein'. Big ups Sir Phil! Note Harold Tillman, Dave Shepherd (brand director) and a mean looking bodyguard all in background. Green is double powerful man, no mistake.
This was proper London Fashion hype at its daftest and most pointless. I don’t know anything about this bloke, but one couldn't help noticing down the end of the underground runway was a huddle of London’s ‘hippest’. Kate, Lily, a load of kids, some aging rocker or other and some of fashions anointed were sat in a smug, whooping, coke gurning pile. Brilliant. He must be good if he’s mates with this lot, right? I cant bare fashion kiddy-winkies; fash-savvy nonchalance in the under tens is horrid. I also hate it when someone presents a collection about ‘layers and found items’. Bloody hell that is so weak; surely stylists and customers can do the layering, and the designer should worry about the clothes mate. Maybe I didn’t get it (again), but I though this was quite pony. I mean how much does all this semi-amateur stuff actually cost? I’d council buy proper designer stuff like Comme or Jil. Has no-one noticed that when people try this stuff it always looks the same, and is nearly always rubbish? Try doing something good.
Aitor Throup’s work and approach could not be further removed from the nonsense of LFW. His static show ‘Legs’ (click) included his M.A. project ‘When Football Hooligans become Hindu Gods’, and his new project inspired by the devastation of New Orleans. Watch his stop frame film of ‘Legs’. Hear his alternative approach to design. He just designed the new Umbro England kit too. From Argentina via Burnley, this man is going to change a few things on his journey. Yes Aitor.
The last show of the day (11 hours of them no less) was a spectacle. This is the work Joe Corrie (Viv’ and Malcolm’s only progeny and co-founder of Agent Provocateur) and London’s own berserk re-inventor and perennial off key style merchant, Barnzley. It's their second show, and I’m impressed with the space they’re occupying. A tangible pagan theatre is obvious in Joe’s fashion vision. Was too cautious to put that to him in interview, instead made tit of self asking about tin of paint reference. (It was late). Look at their elongated Edwardian jacket shape. Feel this could be something. A bit of swagger and an assumed antiquated aggro posture is something that could work in style current insipid clime, especially now McQueen has gone. (RIP A.McQ). Barnzley and Joe Corrie have pedigree for coming up with something that was an effect. Keep your minces peeled for what these two style vagabonds are up to.
QUEEN OF FASHION WITH AN OYSTER CARD
I stayed sober all day, which at LFW is an achievement, frankly. I took the tube home alone to make last orders at Porchester Spa, I hoped. Who should I see walk down the platform at Old Street tube complete with Chaos bandana, but Vivienne Westwood. A Queen with an oyster card and proud. Spectacular. I said good evening, and, as she was alone introduced myself. She's so easy to engage with so I asked her if she'd review Joe's show for me, with half a mind to getting a short video to finish this post. I asked her if there must be 'pagan theatre' in their DNA? "What's happening in the V&A?" she asked over the noise of the tube. I didn't feel quite comfortable filming, so I didn't. We discussed the show and how she was impressed, liking it a lot. She told me a bunch more stuff but made me promise I wouldn't write it, so I won't. I looked up and squinted at the tube map and Vivienne asked if that was my stop. In my dazed state I said yes. "You'd better not miss it then" she said. I jumped off. I didnt want to intrude. I hit myself in the head with my Flip Video all the way to the spa. In retrospect, I'm glad I did the dignified thing. After all, I'd hate to get a telling off from a legend on public transport.
Down the spa I told Lee Balch my friend and Schmeisser about my encounter, and he laughed at me. A good way to finish LFW was in the Russian steam room down the Porchester with laughing, massive Israeli special forces masseur. Perhaps its the next big thing. Lee is a big thing.
I can't believe how long all this is. Is anyone gonna bother to read it? I'm knackered just recounting it. Will get spelling checked by my sister Julie. Julie, pull your finger out.