everything you need to know about this season’s menswear shows
As spring/summer 20 kicks off this week in London, we round up the designers worth keeping your eye on over the next few weeks.
Dior spring/summer 19. Photography Mitchell Sams.
Men’s fashion month is upon us, starting with a bang tomorrow in London. And while it might not be a season packed with big-name debuts, there are plenty of young, London-based designers coming up through the ranks. At Pitti Uomo, there’s a prize headline slot at for Givenchy, with the label’s first menswear only collection since Claire Waight Keller took the helm in 2017. For Milan, we can expect the usual quota of blinged-out maximalism that the Italian city does so well. Then later this month in Paris, we can look forward to the big budget spectaculars we’ve come to expect from designers like Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh at Dior and Louis Vuitton respectively. Here, we round up everything to look out for as the shows kick off...
Keep your eye on the London designers showing for the first time
It’s been well noted over the past few years that London Fashion Week Men’s has undergone a dramatic transition, as many of its top-tier names have either moved to Paris or folded their menswear offerings into their womenswear shows. Thankfully, a new generation have risen to the challenge, with the likes of Craig Green, A-COLD-WALL* and Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY all delivering increasingly ambitious collections that have pushed them into the menswear big leagues.
This season, there are a new crop of designers nipping at their heels. The major name to keep your eye on is Stefan Cooke, who will be staging his first solo show after graduating from the Fashion East: MAN programme last season, with one of the most technically accomplished menswear collections in recent memory. There were trousers of elasticated leather bonded to Lycra that gently rippled down the runway, carefully engineered Argyle knits that revealed diamond-shaped slits as the models walked and chainmail stoles that gave these deeply covetable looks a more playful twist. With all this sartorial wizardry, you can be sure he’s got something equally exciting up his sleeve this time around.
Then there’s paria/FARZANEH, whose explorations of her Persian heritage fused with utilitarian silhouettes has made her one of the most compelling designers in London today, producing deeply romantic streetwear-inflected clothing. Also worth looking out for is Bethany Williams, who balances sustainable and socially conscious design with oversized shapes and riotous colour. Meanwhile, at Fashion East: MAN, Robyn Lynch and Mowalola’s timely meditations on their home countries of Ireland and Nigeria, respectively, will be joined by dyed-in-the-wool Londoner Saul Nash, whose hybrids of fashion and performance mean we can expect him to put on quite a show.
Finally, there are the big hitters. Following last season’s Peter Pan-inspired queer fantasia (that i-D explored alongside a Tim Walker-lensed fashion story in our most recent The Voice of A Generation issue) we can look forward to Charles Jeffrey taking us down the rabbit hole with another escapist spectacular. Samuel Ross’s A-COLD-WALL*, the buzzy label serving up avant-garde streetwear that has the seal of approval from none other than Virgil Abloh, will be showing on Monday. And if last season’s show was anything to go by, you can expect to find some of London’s most ambitious and conceptual work here.
Martine Rose is on the schedule this season, which is always an event: with previous shows including a sportswear-inspired collection staged in a Tottenham rock climbing centre, or an ode to 90s ravers held in a north London cul-de-sac, expect a similarly playful setting for her latest outing.
Then, there’s the reigning king of London menswear, Craig Green, who will be showing on the final Monday morning. With the breathtaking series of candy-coloured, translucent smocked plastic parkas that closed last season’s show, it’s clear he’s got no intention of handing over his crown any time soon. Between the big names and the relative upstarts, it looks like London is ready for a bumper menswear season.
In Florence and Milan, high-octane glamour is likely to be the order of the day
As soon as London is over, the menswear crowd will be heading straight to Florence to catch Pitti Uomo, the world’s leading men’s fashion fair. They won’t be there just to check out the trade show and unparalleled street style, however, but also to catch the headliner this season: Claire Waight Keller at Givenchy. In her debut standalone menswear show, the designer will be taking her razor-sharp tailoring and glam rock influences to a bigger stage. “[Pitti is] a big opportunity for me to really express what I want to do,” explained Claire in a recent interview for WWD, “and also just my more rounded vision of what I want for the Givenchy man.”
From there, it’s a quick train ride up to Milan. The first one to watch on the schedule is Marni, where Francesco Risso has been working his strange, alchemical magic to produce menswear that is as experimental as it is desirable. Let’s hope for more of the same psychedelic, chaotic genius this time around. Afterwards, we can look forward to some unabashed glamour courtesy of Signora Donatella at Versace: If last season’s sexed-up runway is anything to go by, we can expect Baroque prints galore, meticulously cut leather jackets and a carefully judged dose of bling.
And on the final day, it’s time for some unbridled luxury thanks to Fendi, who have been going from strength to strength under the direction of the latest scion of Italy’s most famous fashion dynasty, Silvia Venturini Fendi. Last season, the devil was in the details, with buttery leather jackets cut into rigid shapes and, most memorably, a gorgeous puffa jacket constructed from layers of organza. There was also the debut of the first-ever baguette bag for men, which -- along with Kim Jones’s interpretation of the classic Dior saddle -- marked the beginning of a new trend: the 90s it bag revamped for today’s man. Keep your eye on Silvia again this season.
Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh will once again be the ones to watch in Paris
In Paris, the Americans are coming to town. Some of New York’s most exciting labels are choosing to show on the schedule this season, beginning with Bode, the label that was this week awarded emerging designer of the year at the CFDA Awards. Crafting workwear-inspired shapes from traditional textiles that are largely sourced from offcuts or flea markets, Emily Bode’s vision of fashion imaginatively blends American history with a future-facing focus on sustainability.
And then there’s Sander Lak of Sies Marjan, who will be showing his first standalone men’s collection on the Saturday. It’s likely Sander knows the city’s fashion landscape well, having worked previously for many years under Dries van Noten, but we can look forward to seeing how he translates his kaleidoscopic, romantic take on American staples to a Parisian audience.
Also joining the insurgents from across the pond is Brit designer JW Anderson, who will be staging his second show in Paris after last season’s global nomads stomped the runaway in woolen, monk-like habits for Siberian wanderers. Raf Simons superfans will be awaiting his second collection since he left Calvin Klein with bated breath: with his focus now fully returned to his namesake label, we can expect more of the counterculture-inspired classics that made his name. Another designer to keep an eye on is Paris’s own Ludovic de Saint Sernin, who will be staging another runway show this season. If the Swarovski crystal-encrusted briefs he sent out last time around are any indicator, we can expect plenty more sexy, salacious fashion for the more adventurous dresser willing to flash more than a bit of skin.
Finally (for those who haven’t passed out from exhaustion yet) we can look forward to the one-two-three punch of Louis Vuitton, Dior Men and -- as the very last show of the season -- Hedi Slimane’s second standalone menswear show at Celine. At Louis Vuitton, expect another blockbuster pop cultural touchstone from Virgil, who has so far riffed on The Wizard of Oz and Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean video for his extravagantly staged shows. We can also expect a big-budget spectacular from Kim Jones at Dior Men, with an artist’s collaboration and possibly even a colossal sculptural centerpiece, as with his Hajime Sorayama-inspired resort extravaganza in Tokyo or his first ever collection with street artist KAWS.
And what Hedi has up his sleeve remains to be seen. While his menswear for Celine so far has largely consisted of the rake-thin silhouettes that have dominated his career from Dior Homme onwards, don’t dismiss him as merely a one-trick pony. After kicking off his tenure at the label with a collection that echoed the sexed-up guitarists and groupies that inspired his stint at Saint Laurent, he made a dramatic pivot with his more conservative take on Parisian dressing for autumn/winter ‘19, seemingly inspired by the classic Left Bank bourgeois woman. Could he be planning something similar for his men too? His rockstar acolytes might end up left out in the cold, but there’s a promise of an entirely new customer base should he be willing to venture into new territory. Watch this space.