The Men 2013 London Collections were held at The Hospital Club in Convent Garden, London, from June 15th to the 17th. The collections featured 30 designer menswear shows mixed in with an assortment of cultural events hosted by the likes of Burberry, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Mr. Porter, Savile Row, Dazed & Confused, and HRH The Prince of Wales. The London collections kick off the Menswear season with a showcase of British brands and businesses. The weekend developed out of the one men’s day during London Fashion Week, which quickly grew in size until it demanded its own time and venue. The Men’s London Collections celebrate the cultural heritage and aesthetic of British fashion, and sets the tone for the international men’s fashion weeks that are coming up. Dylan Jones, an editor at British GQ and Chair of the Fashion 2013 Menswear Committee said, “This is a fabulous initiative, and one that will undoubtedly draw even more attention towards London this year. Whether you’re involved in sport, fashion, media, retail, entertainment or tech, or indeed any industry, London is the place to be in 2012.”
Hackett London began as a store on New King’s Road selling vintage men’s clothes and accessories and quickly developed into a British luxury label of menswear and childrenswear that compliments the store’s second-hand goods. Designers Jeremy Hackett and Ashely Lloyd-Jennings were honored this year with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee anniversary. Hackett London’s Spring collection showcases what they’ve termed the “Best of British” fashion and marks the first time the duo has shown at a fashion week anywhere. Currently, Hackett London has 37 of their own stores and sells their designs through 44 different retailers worldwide.
Lou Dalton presented her Spring/Summer 2013 collections, “based around obsession and collecting,” at this year’s London Collections: Men. Dalton is a graduate of the Royal College of Art and has previously worked for Hamish Morrow, Stone Island, Crucianni Knitwear, and Charlie Allen. Dalton describes her aesthetic as, “rebellious English sportswear with a strong attention to detail.” Dalton combined retro cuts and Americana sportswear elements with luxurious fabrics and on trend color-blocking to keep her looks fresh and modern.
Designer Martine Rose is part of the new wave of British menswear designers that is shaking up the traditions of Savile Row. Martine got her start as one of the founding members of the highly-acclaimed label LMNOP, which found cult followings in both London and Japan. In the past, Rose has received support from NEWGEN MEN and MAN in showcasing her collections and has collaborated with labels such as Timberland, CAT, and Icon Brand. This is Rose’s fourth year showing her self-titled collection in London, this time showing her Spring/Summer collection, “based on Bernini’s sculpture’s, in particular The Rape of Persephone. The collection is derived from abstract form, the appearance of fabrics that defy their nature – like sculpture.”
SAVILE ROW OPEN HOUSE
In celebration of the first stand-alone men’s fashion week collections in London, the tailors of Savile Row opened their doors to give visitors, press and fashion show attendees an inside look at some of the world’s premiere bespoke suit makers. Each Savile Row shop opened their showrooms and workshops, demonstrating their craft and presenting a bespoke garment made out of lightweight wool in participation with the Woolmark Company’s Cool Wool campaign. A collection of vintage and new Maserati sports cars were on display as well, lining the street of tailors. Burlington Arcade also co-hosted a cocktail reception in honor of the historic tailoring houses in Mayfair, Piccadilly and St. James, all of whom have been dressing great men in suits for centuries.
Spencer Hart founded his eponymous line in 2002 on Savile Row, describing his aesthetic as, “Classic with an edge. The Spencer Hart style blends the rebellious spirit of jazz, with a dash of old school Hollywood glamour and the Rat-Pack attitude remixed.” For his Spring/Summer collection Hart looked to “a Friday afternoon session at Crackers, Wardour Street in 1977.” The resulting collection presented crisply tailored suits in a variety of cuts almost entirely in black with some soft grays and blues mixed in. Spencer Hart has created a collection of timeless, luxurious menswear with a subtly subversive edge.
SUPERDRY + TIMOTHY EVEREST
Superdry, one of the fastest growing youth-oriented retailers in the world, teamed up with British tailor Timothy Everest to create a capsule collection of men’s clothing that balances Everest’s attention to construction with Superdry’s youthful wearability. The collection mixes timeless tailoring, suits, and dinner jackets, with casual jeans, t-shirts, and backpacks, giving the looks the sort of easy, everyday quality that Superdry has become known for.
Topman Design is the premium, high-end collection from Topman created specifically to be shown during London Fashion Week. The Topman Design show began as a collaboration between Topman and Lulu Kennedy, the founder of Fashion East, and has become a London Fashion Week staple, kicking off the event each year. This year’s collection riffed off of California surf and skate culture with a subtle nod to the androgyny trend and a palette of neon bright colors.
Xander Zhou, who besides showing his Spring/Summer 2013 collection at the London Collections was also the featured designer of GQ China, described his signature style as, “Deconstructionism, playing with form and function, using unconventional materials, taking everyday elements out of context… It’s elegance but not slick.” His Spring/Summer collection, titled “Fleurdelism,” evolved from the world “fleur-de-lis,” a stylized lily that appears on coats of arms, to become more of a life ideology than a literal heraldic symbol. Zhou said, “The principle is that something big like the outdoors can be expressed in a symbol. Following the same logic, boy scouts and their environment can be reflected in design.”
Christopher Shannon is a relative newcomer to the world of fashion, having received his first NEWGEN MEN sponsorship in Autumn/Winter 2010. Shannon designs contemporary sportswear with just a touch of drama to make every piece feel special and unique. Shannon described his Spring/Summer collection by saying, “I want the summer collection to always feel upbeat and a bit holiday. There were a few things I wanted to go back to and rework in better fabrics with a neater cut. There’s quite a lot of embellishment going on, that’s quite giddy for me. SS13 has touches of Peter Blake and British folk with quite boysy sports pieces.”
Patrick Grant, the designer behind E. Tautz, has been running the Savile Row bespoke tailoring house of Norton & Sons since 2005, taking inspiration from traditional British fashion and adding a dash of what Grant refers to as “schoolboy humour.” In 2010, E. Tautz won the British Fashion Award for Menswear Designer. He described his line by saying, “At the heart of the E. Tautz collection is Savile Row cutting; elegant shoulders, suppressed waist, well proportioned, well balanced and unfussy in keeping with the sporting and military traditions. E. Tautz like simple cutting paired with bold accents of colour and pattern – cloths with scale and texture; big checks, fine flannels, and stripes.”
FASHION EAST MENSWEAR INSTALLATIONS
The Fashion East Menswear Installations are a runway alternative that were first organized in 2009 by Lulu Kennedy’s non-profit organization, Fashion East. The installations have come to be regarded as a veritable who’s who in emerging menswear designers. The Fashion East panel selects ten up and coming menswear designers to showcase each season, giving them a space to present their collections along with exhibits, live models, and multimedia performances. This year’s Fashion East Menswear Installations included exhibits from Agi & Sam, Astried Andersen, Christopher Shannon + Kidda, Craig Green, Duffy, Kit Neale, Lee Roach, Maarten van der Horst, Meadham Kirchhoff, Shaun Samson, t.lipop and William Richard Green.
James Long presented a collection of “strong, bold, directional menswear,” in leather, knits, and geometrical patterns that, according to Long, referenced, “Josef Albers, Kung Fu cowboys, Abbacus – felt tip.” James Long combines his imaginative, avante-garde aesthetic with traditional British menswear construction and silhouettes to create futuristic but wearable pieces.
Jonathan Saunders, since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2002, has already made quite a name for himself. He received the Lancome Colour Award for his Master’s collection, and then went on to win the Fashion Enterprise Awards at the British Fashion Awards in 2006, the BFC Fashion Forward Sponsorship for Spring/Summer 2007, and was shortlisted for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund in 2011. Saunders consults for some of the biggest fashion houses in Europe and, previously, has worked for Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix at Pucci, and Phoebe Philo at Chloé.
Katie Eary presented her Spring/Summer 2013 collection of “glamorous streetwear” for men at the London Collections. Eary studied at the Royal Colleg of Art before working at Levi’s and then subsequently beginning her own label. Eary’s aesthetic combines streetwear and skate culture with the world of high fashion and couture. The pieces mix luxe fabrics and clean tailoring with fun, vibrant patterns and tough, street-ready style. Eary described her collection as, “treading the monumentally versatile line between Vogue and Vice.”
Mr Start is the men’s formalwear label derived from the clothing line Start that Philip Start established with his wife Brix Smith Start back in 2002. The label, which is based in Shoreditch, was originally just one store that housed both men’s and women’s clothing with a focus on jeans. In 2008, Philip began designing Mr Start, which specializes in tailored suits that can be either ready-to-wear or custom measured. Philip describes his menswear line, saying, “modern and architectural, Mr Start is the definition of Shoreditch Luxury,” designed for, “someone who’s interesting and not too into themselves.”
RAKE designer Clive Darby, who trained at Limeys, Browns, and Kilgour on Savile Row before this, presented a Spring/Summer collection that took travel as its source of inspiration, taking a journey, “through the bazaars of Marrakech to the night clubs of Paris.” As is to be expected from a designer who learned his trade on Savile Row, the RAKE collection takes cues from the traditional heritage of British menswear. Darby describes his ideal client as, “someone who is open and responsive to suggestions and not scared to take a little risk.”
SIBLING is a collaboration between designers Sid Bryan, Joe Bates, and Cozette McCreery. The trio began SIBLING as a way to breath fresh life into the world of men’s knitwear. SIBLING attempts to take knits and give them new vibrance and resonance with cartoonish colors and splashes of British humor. According to the designers, the collection was inspired by, “Lord of the Flies, the Arab Spring, Paris May 1968 and Brick Lane,” and made for “A man of any age with a sense of humour as defined in his sense of fashion.”
Thom Browne presented his Spring/Summer 2013 collection in a presentation in front of Harrod’s department store. A band played on the roof of a custom Harrod’s double-decker bus as the troupe of Browne models filed off and lined up all wearing identical blue and white seersucker suits that had a 1920s resort wear aesthetic. The suits combined with slicked-back hair, pocket squares, silver tie clips and sock-less black Derby shoes gave a nod to the prohibition era, taking a style cue from Browne’s native New York.
J.W. Anderson, the menswear designer turned womenswear and back again, created a Spring/Summer 2013 collection that evoked a seventies art scene, skater aesthetic. Anderson showcased his penchant for androgyny, saying that his signature is, “things that can be borrowed from a man to a woman and from a woman to a man.” The models sported black headscarves with glittery bangs and shirts with a mean teddy bear print and a monochromatic abstract floral-inspired pattern on a translucent surface. J.W. Anderson brings his tongue-in-cheek aesthetic and whimsical aesthetic to men’s fashion, cultivating a sense of fun, modern individuality.
Meadham Kirchhoff created a fashion presentation for their Spring/Summer 2013 collection that featured androgynous models lounging across vibrant, theatrical apartment rooms. Meadham Kirchhoff’s latest collection marks their return to menswear after a six year absence. The unexpected return has worked the British fashion world into a frenzy, and the alternative, neon grunge collection that focused on sportswear and pajama trousers in stripes, florals, and elecrtic colors did not disappoint. Meadham Kirchhoff bring a refreshing irreverence to men’s fashion that keeps their audience coming back for more.
Nicole Farhi collaborated with British luxury underwear brand Sunspel to create her first collection of menswear. The collection plays with underwear as outerwear, showing thin, gauzy shirts, shorts and trousers in a bleached-out palette of whites and grays. This season had a vintage aesthetic that harkened back to antique Brighton schoolboy uniforms and victorian underclothes. The looks were summery, textural, and put together in light layers. Farhi’s first menswear collaboration will also mark her 30th year as a designer.
Richard Nicoll, after graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2002, has gone on to do freelance consulting alongside Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton and at Cerruti. His eponymous womenswear label has already won him numerous prizes, including three ANDAM prizes in 2008, named Best Young Designer in 2009 at the ELLE Style Awards, and being twice short-listed for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. This is Nicoll’s first menswear collection which combines “dandyish sportswear” with “signature colour and clean lines.” Nicoll described his first men’s collection as, “eclectic, brave, young, fresh, and individual.”
Fashion Week Coverage directed by Indira Cesarine
Photography courtesy of the British Fashion Council / Londonfashionweek.com
Text by Emily Kirkpatrick