What a lovely end to LFWM's second day, chilling with the delightful Liverpudlian designer Christopher Shannon on a lovely rooftop with the sun blazing. "I'm not sunburnt, am I?!" asks Chris. He's not (I am but tomorrow it will be, er, tan.)
We are here to celebrate not just his spring/summer 18 collection, but also the launch of his brand new fragrance with Verdúu perfumes. The scent, is lovely. "It was such a challenge. I love scents, and I was really made up when they asked me! But it had to be non-faddy, have that lasting power," he says.
His brand is one of the stalwarts of London's menswear, his collections the dominant force in a streetwear culture that is rife in history, emotional memory, Liverpool and, frankly, just being totally chic. It's a fashion language that everyone speaks. Past collections have included the eponymous "Londis" bag as a facial accessory, over-sized jumpers referencing cut-price sportswear stores, and fag packets, as well as a selection of corner shop combs as a hair piece. So, what does his fragrance smell like? It says on the box that it smells like Liverpool. Right hun.
"We actually started off with a candle, but it wasn't quite getting... me." He says of working with Mark Buxton, the famed perfumer and creator of all scents for Verdúu. "So we evolved and pushed and pushed and got to this". At this point, Chris sprays the perfume, it gets me in the eye but I'm fine, don't worry, no tears and not just 'cos I'm a fashion trooper -- it's actually good quality and at least my left eye smells nice now. "Sorry! Anyway, I absolutely loved the quality and working with Mark was amazing."
"When I make the work I wanna make, I want it to feel personal. I wasn't always like that, sometimes I just used to make things", says Chris while I blink the sting out of my eye. "And now, because I want my work to sit together and make sense, I'm maybe thinking a bit more differently. I've started looking back and critically thinking of everything I've been doing. You know, it's like, shit I've been doing this for nine years. So this perfume, it's part of the narrative of my work."
Obviously, making a perfume is worlds away from creating a collection."I got a range of smells, like a few nice deodorants, some candles and some cheap, shitty ones." He is tight lipped about which, but if you've ever been around a 13-year-old boy you will be familiar with them. "You can't just say, I like this, I like that! I wanted people to smell it and not associate it with another perfume, it had to be original".
Much of Christopher's work references his home, Mossley Hill in Liverpool. Growing up his house had a peony bush by the door that he and his brother used to shake to the annoyance of his mam. "But those smells were everything, such gorge flowers and us ruining them... lol." Mrs Shannon's influence is inescapable in the fragrance: "She had this spice drawer that were loose, when you opened it all the spices would take you over," he laughs. "That sounds so weird and twee, doesn't it"
The walks home, the spice drawer, the peonies, the shower gels, Christopher's drawn from his past to make an intimate narrative. "It smells of the past, but more refined," he muses. Is he happy with it? With moving his work off the runway and onto the pulse point?
"This morning I was panicking about everything, the show, I was like, 'God this is so intense, it's been a year in the making.' But I'm past being judged. I'm really happy with it. I've been thinking that I have a set amount of time to make the work I wanna make and there's things I wanna do. This is one of 'em. With my work lately, I've just felt it's been a leap for freedom." From rattling his mother's flowers to shaking up London Fashion Week with plastic bags, zippers and masks, we couldn't agree more.
Editor's note: the standfirst of this article was changed after publishing.
Text Bojana Kozarevic