Dylan Jones, the Chair of London Collections: Men has claimed that ‘London is the home of menswear… it always has been and always will be’. Whilst there is a sense of tradition and legacy with the introduction of the tailored suit in Savile Row, successful fashion is an entwinement of past and present, a constant awareness of obsolescence and change of demand. It is necessary to both pay homage to classicism whilst accepting and embracing what is new. Tim Blanks, Contributing Editor, Style.com and a member of the British Fashion Council’s Menswear Committee, said ‘it’s time to make note of the depth – behind all the already familiar names, there are platoons of newbies. That’s more than evolution – it’s inescapable maturity.’
We are in what I like to describe as an era of a Christian Grey craze; suave and sophisticated is all a woman asks for. With an air of wealth and power intermingled with ambitious youth, the London gentleman could be seen as an underlying influence in many of the designers’ work. London Ethnic sought collections that stood out, not in an overtly audacious manner, but in a manner that combined the concept of the traditional Savile Row gentleman with the man of modernity who is consistent with upcoming fashion innovation.
Lorraine Acornley, in a subtly sweet Scottish accent, lovingly described the concept behind ESK Cashmere. I had briskly walked over to their stand solely to touch the fabrics and noting the wonderfully delicate brush of smoothness against my hand, she interjected my fascination with ‘it’s 100% cashmere’. The quality of the clothes spoke for themselves; soft tones of charming grey knitwear and cashmere polo necks and the blue two-tone sweaters so carefully put together in a process they take great pride in.
Acornley explained they use ‘the most luxurious natural fibres’ placing importance on quality not price. They have maintained their sense of heritage whilst keeping abreast of the latest technologies, assuring their customers of their investment in pure luxury and quality. David Beckham can be seen wearing ESK, exuding an aura of the London gentleman who takes pride in his sumptuous taste.
As Londoners, we are all aware of the city’s unpredictable tendency to rain. And when it rains, in an effort to protect our grooming, we commonly opt for waterproof attire. And let’s face it, waterproof clothing has never had the most appealing aesthetic. Norwegian Rain, a duo of tailor/designer T-Michael and business man Alexander Helle manipulated this problem and formed a concept that eradicates the age-old principle of ‘form follows function’. For Nowegian Rain, form may go hand-in-hand with function, as they have fused ‘fine tailoring techniques with 100 % waterproof eco fabrics to create raincoats that don’t look like raincoats’.
Described as ‘hidden hi-tech’, the coats do not absorb any rain and yet still appear clean-cut and sophisticated. The name and concept was inspired by the rainiest city in Europe (Bergen, Norway) and the recycled fabrics are from Japan; drawing upon international stimulation gives Norwegian rain a cultured edge that the international man may seek. This modern man can now throw on his Norwegian Rain coat, and confidently face the unpredictable, fast-paced nature of London, come rain or shine.
Seeking clients who are willing to ‘make statements’ and buy into creativity with their wardrobe choices, Jaewan Park’s ideas are academic yet playful. With a handful of fashion degrees and achievements under his belt, he has crafted designs that are more than meets the eye; at a closer look one can detect the use of trompe-l’œil, a technique that skillfully and purposefully tricks the eye.
Described as a ‘reinterpretation’ of traditional menswear, Park managed to draw in my attention with his (pardon the oxymoron) respectful mocking of traditional menswear. As I was confusedly trying to figure out a jumpsuit that appeared to look like a suit, one of Park’s colleagues said ‘why wear two pieces when you can have it all in one piece?’ Absolutely. Why not?
From asymmetrical, mysteriously stitched lapels to pinstripe jackets covered with a sheer layer of fabric, Park’s collection is not in-your-face like some of the more daring collections can be; it not only entirely wearable for everyday luxury, it is the product of a learned artist’s hard work.
Berthold’s line was my favourite. Not only because of the clothes, but because of him as well. Heengaged with me about the story behind his collection with such contagious fervor to an extent that I came back and asked him to tell me it again. I felt I was with him in his studio, and watching a team brainstorm wild ideas and working towards a final project, something so subtle yet so genius.
He described to me how he got this artist to make a movie (obviously at this point I’m thinking he’s Andy Warhol reincarnated and now I really want to see his studio), and that they had held translucent garment bags up to create effects and the stills from this movie were manifested onto the clothing. The outcome was this incredible amalgamation of distorted images and mermaid-like purples and blues.
I asked him why he didn’t use the effect on every piece, and he explained he prefers monochrome colours and that the effect had more impact scattered across the line and paired with monochrome colours.
The entire idea and outcome was experimental and reminded me of why people invest so much time, money and interest in fashion. Fashion and art come as a duo; it is only through experimentation and wild notions do we engage in true creativity. And it is pure creativity thatcaptures in the world of fashion.
I would simply describe my experience of London Collections: Men as energetic. The designers were eager for their beautifully crafted collections to be sighted by the professionals who could potentially propel them into prominence. It was apparent, whilst sipping on a virgin mojito at the Meet and Greet event and looking at the neatly arranged, colour-coordinated pieces lined up on hangers, that the collections are pristine products of hard work, attention to detail, and a natural flair for individuality.