From Martine Rose’s gorpcore to Kiko Kostadinov’s Lynch-infused twisted tailored uniforms, the third day of London Fashion Week Men’s elevated the everyday.
Martine Rose spring/summer 18. Photography Anabel Navaro.
Having pulled the industry out of its Zone 1 bubble for her triumphant return to London Fashion Week Men's last season with her takeover of Seven Sisters Market, Martine Rose continued her celebration of N17's community with a show inside Stronghold Climbing Centre. The show venue provided a strong hint to the outdoor themes of the collection and confirmed the Tottenham-based designer's passion for her everyday reality. Continuing to support local businesses and the people who make Tottenham what it is, Rose looked beyond the urban archetypes she reimagined for autumn/winter 17 -- the bankers, office workers and bus drivers -- and escaped to the country, placing her transformative lens over bicycle couriers, golfers, climbers and ramblers. Applying her design signatures of proportion play and fabric manipulation, her cast of outdoor characters balanced form with function. As 'gorpcore' is proclaimed as the new 'normcore' by The Cut, Rose put raincoats, alpine sweaters, cargo shorts, fleeces and money belts back into the men's wardrobe.
"I began by looking at the Toronto underground scene of the 80s and 90s, and then I got interested in the outdoor lifestyle," she explained in the changing rooms of the climbing centre. "For me, it was about making the ordinary extraordinary again." As oversized sportswear silhouettes were paired with cycling shorts to evoke the energy of dance culture, grandad suiting fabrics were teamed with 'Rose' branded belt buckles as she delved deeper in her explorations of the everyman. Once again, Martine Rose made the ordinary extraordinary.
As Rose explored the great outdoors, Kiko Kostadinov invited us into the shadows of a David Lynch-inspired world as he distorted the familiar. The Bulgarian-born, London-based designer's fourth collection, Funny How Secrets Travel, weaves a tale of murderous transgression. Despite having only graduated from CSM's prestigious MA course a year ago, this is the fourth collection of his eponymous line -- and he's set to present his second collection for Mackintosh later this month in Paris -- Kostadinov has established himself as one of the capital's brightest talents.
"When we're designing in the studio we continually ask ourselves a few questions," Kostadinov explained from his Wood Green studio in the run up to the show. "Firstly, does it already exist? Secondly, if we saw it in a store would we buy it? Finally, will it contribute to design or will it pollute it? Those are the questions we continually ask ourselves." In a crowded, noisy market, this design honesty and collective focus is refreshing. His point of difference lies in the cut and craft that creates his uniform for a new generation. For spring/summer 18 there's a sense of complex simplicity. Nothing is quite what it seems.
As the collection's Bowie borrowed title implies, the surreal darkness of Lynch's Lost Highway was a pivotal reference, as was Michael Mann's Manhunter. The collection's narrative follows a single character -- by day, he appreciates the lean definition of streamlined deco tailoring, finished with double-breasted Tom Burr-inspired snaps and unexpected bias-cut seams; by night, everything becomes that bit darker as his attire takes on sinister function, complete with concealed pockets, parallel zips and sleeves that are mindful of sharp movement. Pattern cutting is at the heart of Kostadinov's utilitarian garments and silhouettes seemingly shape-shift as seams are unexpectedly twisted. The result is a subversive and unsettling interplay of chaos and control. Kostadinov's obsession with perfecting even the smallest of details is reminiscent of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman at times and was encapsulated within this collection with a cubist work jacket that "took more than fifteen samples to get right."
A world away from the transgressions of Kostadinov's creations, Alex Mullins bottled the nostalgia of 90s perfume ads and infused it with a cut, pasted and manipulated take on the modern world. In today's selfie obsessed times, Mullins was wonderfully self-referential as he photographed key pieces from previous collection and distorted them onto draping canvasses and abstract shapes. From the glamour and tanned torsos of iconic D&G fragrance advertisements to flashbacks to his own creations, asymmetric silhouettes to a decidedly Mullins take on minimalism, the familiar became surreal, the ordinary became extraordinary.
Text Steve Salter
Photography Mitchell Sams