“it’s not enough to stay woke – we need to be alive”: lfwm day two round-up
From the the euphoric debauchery of Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY to Wales Bonner’s poetic perceptions of Black queer culture, the second day of London Fashion Week Men’s celebrated sex, freedom and a renewed sense of political optimism.
Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY spring/summer 18
Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY
Charles's first stand alone show was great. Simply put, it was energetic and fused with ideas of sensation -- just what we need from our young designers in the current political climate.
Many of the designs were classic Charles Jeffrey; baroque shoulders and waists met with high-waisted trousers. Sloped shoulders and platforms for the power! His Matisse print-decorated bold sleeves and colourful jumpers. The styling was, as per, completely on point, with striped, elongated jumpers cinched over twice with big brown leather belts.
A sportswear element was introduced with hoodies and tops; a nod to Charles's maturity, and progression as a commercial designer. After all, the catwalk show is for buyers, as well as press. There were T-shirts reminding us of the Loverboy's own outspokenness -- both his support and criticism of contemporary society. "KIDS HIGH ON DRINK AND DRUGS," you say eh?
All of this, combined with Gary Card's set design and Theo Adams Company choreography -- to create a brilliant show. There was dancing, performing and, at the end, whooping. The collaborative spirit, talent and vision uplifted us all.
Text Bojana Kozarevic
As the LVMH Prize-winning talent travels through time, continents and cultures, her narrative manages to playfully pause the usual blink-and-you'll-miss-them blur of boys, and instead we lose ourselves in her world. Almost as much an artist, ethnographer, poet, dreamer and academic as she is a fashion designer, her craft celebrates, confronts and challenges cultural codes -- her collections are about "broadening the spectrum of what something can be." Season after season, she hands fashion back its stereotypes and celebrates the black male identities that she knows. "I've been thinking about sexuality and male relationships, in every way," she explained from a quiet corner of her spring/summer 18 showspace. "The Hilton Als essay James Baldwin/Jim Brown and the Children provided the focus, it was about seeing the world through that lens." Whilst sharing a large extract from Als' acclaimed work into the queer world around Baldwin in her press notes, her MJ Harper choreographed show was far more intimate than any catwalk space, as models engaged with one another and moved within mere inches of the all-standing guests. The result provided a welcome pause to the busy show schedule as we were invited deep inside her narrative.
"I was thinking about a day in this world. It starts with a uniform of quite utilitarian daywear, and then there's suggestions of another life, an alter ego. There's a transition into night and they dress up to go out and the finale looks hint at them having stayed out all night and there's a sense that they've learnt something." As Wales Bonner explored sexuality instead of sensuality, the collection was stripped of embellishment and there was severity that we've not seen previously. "The aim is to show a side of masculinity that I'm familiar with but isn't widely seen or shared. MJ, who choreographed the show, was relating to this experience. It's about real characters in my life who inspire me." Whilst the narrative was as absorbing as ever, and the characters as rich as we've come to expect, the newly stripped back minimalism focussed the attention on its exquisite tailoring. Wales Bonner is inspired by the past and present but her collections are fast evolving into the luxury of tomorrow.
Text Steve Salter
As the aftershocks of the UK's general election youthquake continued to shake-up London Fashion Week Men's, Matthew Miller continued to celebrate the rising up of Generation Z. "I've always been quite a sensitive designer and I've been absorbing the current climate, it's hard to escape," he explained underneath a stained glass window of St. Sepulchre. In recent seasons, Miller has been one of the capital's most political of designers, and has outfitted what he's seen as a debased, disenfranchised and disengaged generation. Times have changed. For spring/summer 18, he has created the fightback uniform for the degeneration.
"It's about the politicised young generation. For me, today's youth aren't afraid of getting hurt, they're not afraid of love -- it's carefree, unadulterated freedom. They've been beaten up by society and now they're shouting what they want to be and what they want to do. It's about changing the attitudes of the establishment and how they perceive youth." Whilst the tectonic plates of fashion have shifted towards streetwear, Miller has pushed myself towards sharp tailoring "because it's more challenging translated that rich opulence of tradition in a youthful way." As a rising generation make themselves heard, this is Miller transitioning into a more mature designer.
Text Steve Salter
On an upstairs floor of the Truman Brewery on bustling Brick Lane in east London, top fashion incubator Fashion East presented their spring/summer 18 menswear group show, MAN. Returning for a third season was Per Göttesson, whose sensual Sleepwalkers got pulses racing with their sweat-glistening chests, ruched skin-tight tops, oversized denim, and tartan pyjamas last season. This time around, Per was feeling romantic, his fresh faced boys in summery shades of sherbet lemon, powder blue, peach, and hot pink. Long coats in indigo or pink denim were layered over string vests and wide pleated trousers with Margiela-like extended waistlines, belted close to the body with loose folds of fabric draping down over the hips, ending in thick turn-ups pooling over trainers. Oversized white shirts fell open across the chest, worn over slim, tie-waist joggers or inside-out denim trousers with external zip plackets and white printed pocket linings. In collaboration with jewellery designer Husam El Odeh, ordinary objects like cigarette butts, lighters and fragments of ceramic were held in gold cases as broaches, and seashells were hung around necks and biceps with delicate chains.
Up next was the riotous, joyful cast of Art School, each look of 'Queer Couture' tailored perfectly for the particular friend who was wearing it -- taking in a beautifully broad range of shapes, sizes, skin tones and gender presentations. The romantic vibe continued with flowing, laced-up and bejewelled ball gowns, tailored suits (with matching shorts, skirt or trousers) worn with silky or jewel embellished blouses, and strap dresses in silk or velvet. Pink corduroy was used for a ruched bandeau with ties and matching armlets (worn with seafoam green cargo pants), and for a button-up flares and biker jacket look worn by performance artist Jack Powers.
Closing the show were James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks with their south coast based label Rottingdean Bazaar. Translating the surrealist humour of their earlier presentation pieces to the catwalk for the very first time, the endlessly inventive designers renewed their affection for garment-on-garment mash-ups (previously tights and socks heat-sealed onto T-shirts, among other things) and a new preoccupation with tools and hardware items -- surely a wink to their DIY sensibilities. The show opened with Harry Freegard, who was recently on the cover of Man About Town, in an off-shoulder black gown with a cutout of white jeans rendered in lightweight polyurethane affixed to the front, and closed with artist David Hoyle in a long tunic T-shirts with a life-sized polyurethane pitchfork attachment. In between, there were balloon boobs, a collection of one and two pence coins, a golden picture frame (revealing a bare chest beneath), crumpled cans, and a whole hammer attached to simple black T-shirts, jersey sweatshirts, shorts and sweatpants.
Photography Mitchell Sams