let’s get physical as lc:m get's underway
On the first day of the spring/summer 16 men’s shows in London, the boys stripped down and joined the sexual conversation.
Just in time for the heat wave that always sets in on the first day of the men's shows in June, designers decided to get their déshabillé on and get hot in here, as Nelly would have it. It happened in a string of shows, on this first day of spring/summer 16 menswear in London, which weren't just preoccupied with the primal fascination of nudity, but with the power of physical attributes. Craig Green already introduced his peephole tops last season, but shown side by side with topless models carrying fabric banners down the runway contouring their rippling muscles as the materials blew against their naked torsos, those peepholes took on a stronger and sexier implication in this season's encore.
"It started off as ideas and symbols of power, which links back to the brand, which is always based around communal dress and either cult-like dressing or institution," Green said backstage. He listed breasts as one of those symbols, an attribute, which interestingly isn't a huge part of the male anatomy - literally speaking - unless it's athletically bulked up, of course. They were the focal point of tops twisted into nipples, or garments with big holes around the peck area, fabric dramatically falling out of them. Bodybuilding, however, didn't seem to be on Green's horizon. Rather, it was the life-giving female variety transferred in all their powerful glory to the male body like some superhuman mutation.
Maybe it was an illustration of female world domination - coming to a parliament near you - or perhaps it had more to do with that primal drive: the average straight man's obsession with tits. Would Caitlyn Jenner have loved it? Who knows, but should she want to join the ranks of squealing Craig Green fanboys and girls, who probably shed a few of those infamous tears at this show too, there was good news to be had in the shape of several women's looks on the runway, sure to sell out in a matter of hours come spring. And London wasn't done with its erogenous zones just yet.
At Christopher Shannon, boys in transparent t-shirts and tiny little shorts wore undone neon bikinis over tops, combining tribute and parody in a totally forgiving way. "Holiday images," Shannon said backstage. "People drunk on holiday. Anyone I could find that looked good." So it was kind of funny, but still sexy in the sort of slightly seedy way that Green had also given us, albeit in very different brush strokes. "I think it's because last season I got out of a relationship and this season it's summer. I just feel a little bit more like I wanna go out," Shannon said, in words practically taken out of Caitlyn Jenner's mouth.
Christopher Shannon spring/summer 16
Indeed, it's a brave new world these days, what with masculinity and femininity merging into one another and menswear designers tackling bikinis and colour like never before. (Both Green and Shannon featured the latter heavily, setting sails for a season of vibrancy.) But boys will be boys, at least for a while longer, and if Chris Pratt's bulging limbs in Jurassic World - which premiered on the same day as these shows - are anything to go by, spornosexuality and manly va-va-voom are still very much what the average man (and woman) wants. And while you'll have to sit tight for the Milan shows for some of that cinnabon, Green and Shannon gave us plenty of gratuitous scantily dressed male physique.
As did young Rory Parnell-Mooney, who celebrated the tenth anniversary of the—to this story—conveniently styled MAN initiative with a bunch of boys in skimpy black underwear. He played Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar for the finale and the words left their imprint: "Repent, that's what I'm talking about!" Could it be that Rick Owens' insubordinate dick tricks on the runway last season inspired these young London designers in such a way that menswear is now becoming as Phallus focal asHollywood is getting in their action films? (No, really, there's an entire scene in Jurassic World devoted to the silhouette of Pratt's ginormous bulge.)
At Topman, the rebellious spark was alive as ever—as was the muscle porn, although the boy who wore that little vest in the second exit was half the size of Chris Pratt. "It started off as Northern soul meets Billy Idol and then we kind of got to surfer punk in the middle, because we needed a good bridge," Gordon Richardson said backstage. But more than in the punk - now as inoffensive to the mainstream world as blockbuster bulge scenes - the rebellion was in the silhouette of - gasp! - wide trousers. "It took us a long time to get into skinny jeans, but nobody remembers that," Richardson reminisced. "I remember doing it in Topman twelve or fifteen years ago, and then it took two years for it to really work in London, and now we can't get boys out of skinny jeans. But I've realised that doesn't matter and it's always going to be around, but we slowly introduce other silhouettes." Bring on the heat.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans