full fantasy: charles jeffrey, feng chen wang and per götesson at man autumn/winter 17
The all-killer, no-filler trio return for another season together, their collections taking in the Chinese concept of the sixth sense, a sleepy view of male sexuality and a club-kid bid to escape the planet where Donald J Trump is set to take office.
With last season's three designers returning to the MAN autumn/winter 17 catwalk -- Charles Jeffrey showing for the third and final time -- it was destined to be a special show, and the excitement in the packed venue at the Old Selfridges Hotel was palpable.
Per Götesson opened the show with his collection Sleepwalkers, where models draped themselves around a Tony Hornecker-designed set where pillows were strung between wooden frames, tied together with blue rope. As the lights went up, the boys sleepily disentangled themselves from the installations, walking the runway in skin-tight putty-coloured hoodies with the drawstrings woven through the front of the top to make them ruched, worn with oversized pyjama trousers and open shirts. The Swedish designer's signature oversized, raw-edge denim was back, contrasted with a new slim-cut jean and mixed with a bold red tartan and piped navy pyjama sets.
"I'm always interested in the body, and for me it's really important for me to get attracted, and even turned-on by the clothes," Per told i-D backstage. "I was looking at pyjama sets, and that sense of more voyeuristic way of looking at dressing. I also saw people wearing pyjama jackets and I thought it was such a nice way of not caring - it's a great look, that evening wear thing!" While the collection is sensual and romantic, Per has created a film with Prosper Unger-Hamilton that situates it in a nightmarish in a world of pills and zombies. "With something good there's always something evil!" the designer laughs by way of explaination. Watch the film premiere exclusively, below.
Next up was Feng Chen Wang, showing her second catwalk collection for MAN. Inspired by the Chinese concept of the sixth sense -- translated as 'feeling', or perhaps the interpretation in the brain of the physical sensations recorded by the other five senses -- the collection is both sensual and protective. From the exposed first look of a tight, peach-toned top worn with pinky-beige leather Y-fronts and a rose ruched leather waspie, the collection got progressively more armour-like, with tiered shorts-trousers, cocooning puffa jackets and layered 80s sports jackets in metallic silver leather, canary yellow, gunmetal grey, black and white - all worn with zip-front white heeled boots.
"If you want to protect yourself, you use your hands, but everything is controlled from your mind," Feng explains backstage. "I created a silhouette that is like the way your body moves. But the pattern is crazy; it's all one piece, one body. We couldn't find fabric wide enough, so it has been stitched together, but you can't see that [it's on the inside]."
The dramatic and spectacular finale came courtesy of Charles Jeffery and his LOVERBOY crew, showing as part of MAN for the third and final time. A true fashion showman, Charles filled the runway with hordes of mud-covered performers choreographed by Theo Adams Company, writhing around the venue's pillars as the models and goddess-monster creations by Gary Card hit the runway.
Doubling down on his tailoring elements, Charles told i-D backstage that he pushed his pattern cutters to the limit; exploring cut, drape and silhouette with a diverse range of historically-inspired suit, jumpsuit, shorts, skirts and coat styles, which included looks seemingly created from torn brown paper, and a shearling fencing jacket sketched from the Met Museum.
Having linked up with his New York club kid counterparts while filming LOVERBOY Takes New York with i-D, Charles was inspired by their 'Full Fantasy' mantra - using it as the title of the show. "Full Fantasy is a reaction to what's going on in the world right now," he told us backstage, elucidating on the four goddess-monsters - one of which was painted as a distorted US flag, towards which the mud-covered dancers seemed to double over and vomit. "With what's going on with Trump and with Brexit, we thought let's have a deity - we were going to try and burn it on the runway but we weren't allowed!
"We don't trust what people are saying in the media, we don't trust our politicians, so why not commit to being in a full fantasy? Because we can't stand reality anymore," he says, adding, "That was reinforced in New York by these club kids who do it every single night. It's not just, 'oh, we'll get dressed up' - this is work to them and they commit to it". A creative manifesto for 2017, delivered right when we needed it the most.
Text Charlotte Gush
Photography Finn Constantine