Diesel got dark and dirty, Tom Ford was all cash, and Burberry Prorsum made art, not war, as London Collections: Men passed on the autumn/winter 14 menswear torch to Florence.
As editors left the dark romance of the London shows on Wednesday evening for Andreas Melbostad’s debut men’s collection for Diesel Black Gold at Pitti Immagine in Florence, one message came through loud and clear: you can run, but you can’t hide. “I had my London years in the 90s as a student, so that probably influenced it a little bit. I love that kind of sharpness and toughness,” the Norwegian designer commented after his Prodigy-scored show of black, gloomy glam. Melbostad chose to work in black, he explained, to bring the focus to the cuts, silhouettes and textures of the collection, which wasn’t an entirely anti-British statement in itself. In all black and eventually all white, the collection echoed the strict, almost imposing tailoring which ruled supreme at the London shows, but mixed in the flashy Euro vibe, which is so intrinsic to Diesel’s fuel power.
Whereas the gloom of the London shows, however, proudly drew on the city’s Victorian grandeur, Diesel steered clear of any of Florence’s trademark majestic Renaissance associations, which have often played leading roles in the collections of Pitti’s previous guest designers. Shown in a blacked-out space with retro sound illusion matrixes lining the walls, and with its metallic surfaces and tight uniform jackets, this collection was about Italian fashion at its fastest and most furious. A few hours earlier at LC:M, an Italian had made his way to London with a similar yet almost reverse story in mind. “It’s a small-town guy, who moved to the city – perhaps London,” Massimo Nicosia mused on his starkly modern austerity at the Pringle of Scotland presentation where 3D cashmere cable knits and cashmere tracksuit bottoms looked strict and restrained.
“I like strict,” Nicosia said. “Do you know why? For a woolly brand like Pringle, you need to bring something that’s very stark and very sleek, otherwise the collection becomes too overly comfortable and snug.” In a season that’s already been called brutal, Lord have mercy on the man who wants to feel snug. Even Tom Ford, who hasn’t historically been averse to a snug trouser, denounced his love for snugness (in all senses of the word) at his signature self-narrated salon show on Wednesday morning. Here, it was all about the stovepipe trouser, he explained, as he presented a mostly black collection of the super rich calibre for which he’s known, but notably without the dandyesque tailoring and eveningwear that’s come to define his label.
“You won’t see many suits, shirts and ties this time,” Ford noted, dedicating the collection to the type of garments his customer would wear on weekends, such as a down-padded blazer and the first-ever Tom Ford trainers. (Needless to say, there wasn’t a tracksuit in sight.) Ford pretty much wrote the book on extravagant black luxury, and for an LCM that’s hailed both the everyman and the workingman, the unapologetic sumptuousness of his collection seemed almost rebellious. Especially, of course, in contrast to SIBLING’s take on the season’s socialist vibe, which saw the terrific trio devote their collection to the “drudgery of the workingman”, as Cozette McCreery put it backstage. “It’s about a workingman who goes to work basically for his family, and the joy that comes with really being proud of what you do.”
Inspired by the book The North by John Bulmer, the collection captured the down-to-earthiness and good sense of humour of the photographer’s work, portrayed through the generally insane universe of SIBLNG, which saw a slouchy leopard tracksuit bottom styled with a roomy denim jacket and various additional knitted things. “I can’t imagine that a lot of these guys – like dockers or miners or what have you – would want to be seen in a crochet onesie, but that’s just something to kind of hang things on. It’s more to do with a feeling,” McCreery said, answering the question that’s inevitably been on everyone’s mind during these three days of very fashiony collections for, well, socialist workingmen.
“In order to survive in life, you need to have the bounce between things that are attention-seeking, luxurious and special, and things that pay the rent,” Sir Paul Smith weighed in at the presentation of his British Collection tailoring line at an Estie on Piccadilly covered in Persian rugs. “I’ve done a very successful jeans line and some very successful basic things, but there is absolutely a place for more opulent things and more special things, too,” he noted, pointing out the intricate detail of a gradually disappearing pinstripe on a blazer, and a Prince of Wales check which gradually grew in size on the garment, both executed by an expert mill in Yorkshire. But it was in three pairs of kilim shoes that the designer’s talent for opulence really had a chance to show off ahead of a reportedly kilim-heavy main line show in Paris next week.
There wasn’t a whiff of LCM’s doomsday bouquet in the air at Burberry Prorsum where Christopher Bailey had instead immersed himself wholly in the lives of artists in early-twentieth century England. Models wore artsy scarves over a romantic collection of graphic floral prints, which very naturally carried on the torch from the spring/summer 14 men’s season’s flower theme and the women’s season’s art theme, giving show-goers an inkling of what’s to come in Milan and Paris. It was a sentiment echoed at Christopher Shannon, who covered his luxe streetwear in florals, which was something of a contrast at an LCM, which will above all be remembered for its sinister opulence and back-to-black message. At the usually so bijou Agi & Sam on Wednesday morning, a demure, largely black and white collection bore witness to this fact better than anything.