During the course of London Collections: Men I’ve been asked whether I actually write about menswear at least fifteen times. Generally speaking, the answer is no – I tend to write about stuff I’d wear/buy/kill to get my hands on – but for LCM I make an exception. Obviously the fact that I’d never miss the chance to spend a few days prancing around in pretty clothes looking at other clothes plays a part in this decision but I’ve also found that I actually find menswear really interesting. And if what I’ve seen so far is any indication, all you fashion fixated fellows out there should be very excited about what AW13 will bring.
I wore… Coat: Whistles, Skirt: Zara, Beret: American Apparel, Bag: Jaeger, Jumper: Uniqlo, Boots: Massimo Dutti
My first day of London Collections: Men AW13 kicked off with the Orlebar Brown presentation. I say “kicked off”, what I really mean is that I slept through my alarm twice and stumbled out of the house in an ever-so-slightly hungover daze before collapsing into a cab (yes another one) to Covent Garden. Still I managed to make it in time and thank GOD I did because ever look was utterly fantastic. Brown’s aptly titled Miami collection featured, as the name implies, bright colours, beach friendly pieces and even a Hawaiian shirt or two. Aside from that though, it was absolutely city friendly; beautifully crafted, wearable and “fashion-y” without veering into ridiculous territory. Think tech fabric sweatshirts in succulant shades, punchy prints, soft Italian linen shirts and skinny chinos in colour-popping hues. It was the perfect fusion of technical expertise, modern tailoring and retro deco cool… Orlebar Brown I implore you, PLEASE start doing womenswear soon!
Orlebar Brown AW13
After that it was time to hot foot it to the nearest Starbucks and consume a LOT of caffeine before moseying along to The Hospital Club to search for any friends of mine who might be loitering in the press lounge. Given my slightly fragile state I rather hoped my fellow partners in crime might be knocking about and luckily for me, they were. After half an hour’s communal whinging about our acheing heads (nobody’s fault but our own) and several fortifying pastries (LCM press room really puts on a spread!) later we decided it was time to make a move. Not that we exactly had to move far, the John Smedley presentation was roughly 50 yards down the road. Before I launch into a description of the collection I have to mention a couple of London Collections: Men’s most excellent (is that gramatically correct?) qualities… 1) It is super chilled out. I love, love, LOVE womenswear fashion week but it’s seriously hard core, there would certainly be no time to lie down and eat a Danish let alone go home for a cheeky nap in between shown. 2) Everything is so near each other! With womens the general rule seems to be that the more important the show, the further away it is from Somerset House, go figure. Anyway, enough of my ramblings and back to show, or rather presentation, number two. For those who don’t know (which I didn’t until relatively recently) a presentation involves models standing showcasing garments within a relatively static environment. In the case of John Smedley, it involved a line of extremely lovely looking male models standing on a white plinth while fashion folk admired
them the clothes. There have been several occasions during LCM when I’ve looked at a garment and thought I would personally wear it. This was one of those occasions and I was rather tempted to pinch one of the polo shirts coveniently (for stealing purposes) displayed away from the main presentation. While my boyfriend insists they were invented by “some old fisherman in Alaska” legend has it that it was John Smedley who invented the Long John. I’m inclined to believe this tale as the long john’s featured in his AW13 offerings were nothing short of awesome. The whole thing was an eye-popping-yet-tasteful feast of hunter greens, mustard yellows, scarlets and royal blues further jazzed up by horizontal stripes and botton detailing. My personal fave had to be the green fair isle number with matching scarf. Menswear or otherwise, that bad boy has my name all over it.
John Smedley AW13
I thought I had another show at 12.15 but it turned out that I’d just picked up the wrong invitation (smooth) and in fact had a break until 3pm. In an effort to be productive I decided that instead of hitting the shops I’d go home and tackle my tax return. Two hours, three episodes of 30 Rock (major obsession of mine) and not so much a glance at my invoices later I was back in my heels and off to Covent Garden for the MAN show. A joint venture between Topman and Fashion East, each season MAN supports three talented young designers providing them with funding, catwalk show production, PR support and expert advice. Previous recipients include James Long, Christopher Shannon and J.W Anderson… So you know the designers they pick are going to be good. This time around the roster included Astrid Andersen and Agi & Sam, both of whom MAN had supported last year, plus one newbie by the name of Craig Green.
Up first was Astrid Andersen. The Danish designer’s unique take on sportswear earned her rave reviews last season and this time around she explored the concept of vanity as an extreme sport. Slouchy silhouettes and ice white trainers shown on shawn-haired models exuded street machismo but Andersen’s collection was about a whole lot more than just leisure wear. Low slung tracksuits and baggy basket tanks were juxtaposed with pale purple and gold hues and innovative fabric choices such ranging from Japanese silk to mink and fox. It was bold, brash but at the same time beautifull crafted with carefully placed zip detailing, oversized pockets and expertly worked textiles. A glance at the press release informed my that Astrid sought to show the strength of the bodybuilder in contrast with his vulnerability, an aim I think she achieved without a doubt.
Astrid Andersen AW13
Designer number two was Craig Green. The show opened with a succession of models in head-to-toe black and then white, respectively, their faces obscured by headpieces resembling broken planks of wood. Suffice to say, the collection that followed was a fascinating one. According to the ever-helpful show notes, Green has an obsession with the interplay between light and dark which was certainly evident within these monochrome and strangely ominous ensembles. Each look was at once simple to the point of appearing unfinished yet also clearly a remarkable feat of fabric engineering. Cottons came in every conceivably guise from satin smooth to matt, waxed and enhanced by painstakingly crinkle pleated linings. Denim, felt and lambswool also made an appearance with treatments and hand painting transforming them into sculptural creations. Perhaps not clothes I’m going to be trying to wrangle my boyfriend into any time soon but as a catwalk collection, Craig Green’s AW13 offerings were certainly fearless.
Craig Green AW13
The final MAN designer, or rather designers, to take to the catwalk were Agape Mdumulla and Sam Cotton AKA Agi & Sam. Having fallen head-over-heels for their print-tastic SS13 collection I couldn’t wait to see what they had in store for us next and the dynamic duo certainly did not disappoint. Drawing inspiration from the Marquess of Bath, Agi & Sam delivered a playful, imaginative take on English country gent elegance. Dandy style were given a 2013 make-over in eye-popping hues and clashing patterns galore. Ingenious prints included re-imagined Paisleys with foxes and pheasants emerging from the swirls and what at first glance appeared to be a traditional hunting scene but on closer inspection, turned out to have some rather exotic prey. The designers’ inspired mash-up of classic menswear pieces extended to double breasted suit jackets with neon orrange puffa sleeves and houndstooth print trousers in acid green. Beards and beagles and sideburns galore made for very entertaining viewing but most of all I found myself wishing, yet again, they did womenswear.
Agi & Sam AW13
**UPDATE** Since posting this I found out that Agi & Sam did in fact launch a women’s capsule collection at Harvey Nichols late last year and it’s every bit as awesome as I’d have hoped! Check it out here.
By this point I was starting to feel a little on the ropey side so I made for the nearest Starbucks to replenish my caffeine levels before heading to my final LCM engagement of the day. Hunter Gather is a truly ingenious new retail concept. I could wax lyrical about them all day but given that this is turning into a bit of an essay (sorry!) I’ll try to keep it short. Basically it’s a collective or creative community that will hunt down the best in design to create a range of edited material. To kick thing’s off, they’ve released a men’s capsule collection and I’ve been assured that womens will follow shortly. They decided to host an afternoon event during London Collections: Men to showcase the collection and celebrate the launch of the Hunter Gather London flagship which is oh-so-conveniently located approximately 10 minutes walk from where I live. I won’t pretend to be an expert on menswear but as far as I’m concerned, Hunter Gather have concocted the ultimate male wardrobe. Encompassing everything from fluoro bomber jackets to modern peacoats, bold print t-shirts and super luxe cashmere jumpers (I was very tempted to buy one for myself) it had just about everything a fellow could ever desire and at very reasonable prices!
After having a good, long snoop around the super chic, modern store and ogling the installation downstairs I headed for home… Via Sandro, where I somehow found myself buying a coat.
Love Ella. X