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The Roundup: LFWM's AW17

The Roundup: LFWM's AW17

London Fashion Week Men’s was the perfect antidote to a gloomy January weekend. It finished on a high, with celebrated British designers Vivienne Westwood and Belstaff presenting to packed-out venues despite a tube strike and the resulting chaos into which London descended. In its 10th season, London Collection Men’s was renamed London Fashion Week Men’s, aligning it more prominently, and deservedly, with its world-famous female equivalent, London Fashion Week. As designers show increasingly mixed-gender collections, with everyone from Bobby Abley to Westwood combining men’s and womenswear, you can’t help but wonder whether the name change is, also, paving the way for the more unisex, androgynous fashion industry of the future. One where the gender roles we’ve been conditioned to abiding by don’t matter.

Despite the rain, under cover of cloud, a dazzling roster of insurgent and established designers, both native and international, lit up the capital. These were the shows we loved.

BELSTAFF

First impressions: Military heritage meets Blackbeard.

Belstaff’s AW17 collection was inspired by naval traditions, a move away from their traditional motoring heritage. A sartorial tribute to the clothing worn by the British Royal Navy throughout WWII and titled “Jolly Roger”, the collection interprets the difficult reality of life at sea through colour and fabric. Designed to withstand the harshest conditions, hand-waxed jackets and luxury leather are key elements in every man’s wardrobe. Classic Belstaff silhouettes have been updated and reinterpreted – with weather-beaten effects and tattoo-inspired motifs across the collection.

Shop Belstaff exclusives.

YMC

First impressions: Paired-back, artisanal street wear for techno-lovers.

Soundtracked by Factory Floor in a low-lit basement venue, YMC’s AW17 presentation felt like an intimate, punchy, arthouse-house party organised by the coolest kids on campus. In signature YMC style, they combined their two key inspiration sources, music and art, with influences stemming particularly from the avant-garde art movements of the last century. Dedicated to autbhentic, directional style, key pieces included heavy loopback jersey, knits, surrealist graphics (by artist Julian House) and a unisex sheepskin flight jacket. The colour palette was neutral, with accents of olive, grey, camel and burnt orange, making the collection, titled “Traum der Maschine” (translation: Dream Machine, a hedonistic reference to the Berlin of the ‘70s and ‘80s), a visual and wearable tribute to the cool, underground party and art scenes of 20th century Europe.

UNDERSTATED CAMO

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD

First impressions: The mother of British fashion has returned to home turf with eco-friendly knitwear with a royal lineage.

The final day of London Fashion Week Men’s heralded the turn of Britain’s Godmother of Punk, Vivienne Westwood. Returning from Milan like the prodigal daughter of politically-conscious fashion, the collection was held, anachronistically (Westwood style), in a leisure centre in Marylebone. The echoing and brightly lit hall framed a collection that combined both women’s and menswear, showcasing Westwood’s signature spectrum of techniques from multi-coloured knits to clever, unconventional tailoring. Models took to the catwalk to the sound of a Prokofiev remix, wearing regal trash crowns scrawled with the word “Ecotricity” (a green energy company that uses and funds windmill farms in the UK.) Look out for the orb ¬– it’s regal.

Discover Vivienne Westwood.

MAHARISHI

First impressions: Military-inspired streetwear for people who care about mother nature.

A brand famed for its military references and martial-arts influence, Maharishi looked to Africa for SS17. Showing, alternatively, at the start of the imminent season, the show notes cited meaningful and militant influences, including the American, Chinese and French colonisation of the continent, particularly in terms of its military and trade presence there – not, we must say, in a good light. A natural colour palette, inspired by the precious minerals mined in Africa, included Coltan yellow, pale green and white, with primitive graphics, vivid embroidery and camoflague print taking centre stage. Hoodies and traditional sports silhouettes were wearable and light, with a few pieces inspired by traditional African dress, including the Djellaba – a hooded, loose-fitting robe from North Africa.

CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

First Impressions: Socially aware, tonuge-in-cheek wardrobe staples.

Liverpool-born, London-based designer Christopher Shannon was representing the North at LFWM on Saturday. A political subtext ran through the collection, as the show notes referenced this being his first “post Brexit and Trump.” The collection, a compendium of familiar Shannon staples, including hoodies, denim, cottons and quilted nylon in a colour pallete of traditional indigo and black was accented with soft fluoro oranges and yellows – a reference to the workmen and couriers Shannon passes in the streets of East London. “You pass them and hear all these different accents and languages being spoken” said Shannon, making it essentially a tribute to diversity in the city and the UK. Patch-worked, colour-blocked jeans and sportswear came down the runway alongside typically humorous, knock-off slogan tshirts (LOSS International mocking BOSS, the Timberland logo transformed into “Tumbleweed”.) The models had flags (European, Welsh, gay pride) plastered artfully on their faces – a project Shannon had embarked upon with Luke Brooks and James Buck of Rottingdean Bazaar – and walked the runway to the electric tune of a Pete Wiley and KLF, listing the names of Northern towns. A comment upon the negatively nationalistic feeling that has swamped the socially disenfranchised of the UK if ever we saw one. Fashion with a voice.

Discover Menswear.

MILITARY STREETWEAR