man spring/summer 17 looks to the future of menswear
Charles Jeffrey presents the New Look LOVERBOY style, while Fashion East first timers Per Götesson and Feng Chen Wang bring bedsit denim and global community vibes to the menswear group show.
Charles Jeffrey's club kid has gone couture for spring/summer 17. In his second season showing as part of Fashion East's MAN group show, the east London LOVERBOY's drunk tailoring takes on the New Look, as well as a raft of other glamorous, historic references. "I always wanted to have that idea of ascending and taking things to a new level," Charles tells i-D backstage. "Looking at early couture -- Dior, Balenciaga, Charles James -- and having that as a starting point, in my subconscious, and then following my own process."
Those references (and a collaboration with Woolmark) translated into wool bar jackets: one sleeveless with pouch pockets creating an exaggerated hip, another safari-style with fabric banana overlays, and another in Jeffrey's signature hand-painted denim. An elegant black jacket with a waistcoat hem and a long turquoise leather coat had military style S-shaped button plackets, a nod to Jeffrey's father's career. "I want to add more scope. I want to show that I respect things. I want to show that I have trained as a fashion designer, that I'm not just 'the club [kid]'. I want to show my own process -- which might be chaotic in it's way; it's a balance of some things that I liked!"
The cut-n-paste aesthetic of club culture has not been lost, however, and was evident on heavily embellished boxer shorts laden with metal and clay charms made by Matty Bovan (and his mom Plum), chainmail-spliced and elegantly shredded knitwear.
The catwalk scene was set with white powder and roses strewn along the runway. A fashion film by Charles' close friend Gareth Wrighton played on the back wall, showing a naked person curled in the darkness, spinning on the screen. "When I watched the film for the first time, I wept. I actually wept," Charles says, noting that showgoers can take what they want from it, but that he sees, "Space Odyssey, rebirth, ideas of humanity." "It ties really deeply into the somber mood, you know, being alone, cradling yourself. [But also] skin and passion, chaos," he adds.
Compared with last season's playful extravagance, this presentation had a quite different, somewhat darker mood. "Living as a fashion designer in London can be a very somber thing!" Charles muses by way of explanation. "As much as it's beautiful and it's fantastic and it can be really energetic, sometimes you hit reality, and it can be really hard. It's not like I wanted to make a point of that, but I guess that is part of life as a fashion designer. It felt right to work in this way; to start quite grandiose, and showcase the mental side of things in that second chapter. We all have a come down every now and again!"
Also concerned with the some of the harder realities of life as a young person in today's globalized world is Per Götesson, who gave us a teaser with one look at the RCA graduate show a day before presenting his full collection at MAN. Götesson's presentation opened the show; his eight boys were positioned around an installation by Tony Hornecker -- a stack of mattresses and pillows held together with rope and sea-worn ladders.
"When I was talking to Tony, I told him I was reading Gulliver's Travels, thinking about myself and not having a 'home' -- you know, where do I live? -- and isolating it as something precious," Per tells i-D backstage. "I had this idea about the mattress representing a home, or something comfortable. [The idea of home] has a lot of levels, I guess; it's about globalization and the world. We cannot move so easily, we live with other people, it's super hard to find somewhere to live."
As for the clothes, Per explains that the collection of deconstructed workwear jackets accessorized with plastic clips, chains, and lighters, wide denim jeans, and mesh sports tops is referenced from his own wardrobe with a play on scale. "Reading Gulliver's Travels obviously fed into the scale issue, and, when you're tall, like me -- well, I never care about size, I work with what I have. So I have some small jackets that would look small on anyone, and then huge trousers, that are folded into position. The accessories are [made from] stuff you'd find in my pockets."
Bringing a light and joyful perspective to the proceedings was Feng Chen Wang. "This collection is about the connections in my life -- the people I have met. It's amazing, I am meeting people and then afterwards, so many beautiful things happen! I have friends from New York, friends from China, and from London; they are all connecting together in my life, connecting through me!" These connections are symbolized in the sporty, tailored, parachute silk and cotton separates with loops of elastic cord pulling the fabric together in ruched lines and circles, and with padded lettering, spelling 'YOU' and 'WE' across the chest on tops and on the knees of trousers.
Text Charlotte Gush