This weekend saw London's biannual menswear extravaganza take place, shining the spotlight on both upcoming talent & established designers in order to prove that men can be as sartorially innovative as our female counterparts. Moving away from the monochrome palettes of previous years, this season was one of the most colourful in recent memory; Moschino did patchwork, Agi & Sam did Lego and Sibling featured enough pink to give Barbie a headache. From rose-dyed buzzcuts to hot pink latex, the duo brought the fun back into fashion and, subsequently, created one of the highlights of the season. Elsewhere, brands such as Ada & Nik reworked silhouettes and played with textile innovation, whereas the chic layering at Casely-Hayford struck a new balance between smart & casual. Here, we see the four highlights of LC:M; a group of innovators trying to re-introduce fun to fashion.
In terms of wearability and desirability, this collection was a clear highlight for a number of reasons. The first reason was the sheer number of garments on the runway; with the majority of looks featuring at least three separates, there truly was something for everyone. The second was that this collection perfectly epitomised the laid-back cool that emerged as this season's dominant aesthetic. Trousers were looser than before, often with higher waistlines, wide legs and cropped hems. Cardigans became slouchy, oversized coats and the occasional day-glo racing stripe added a touch of interest to a largely neutral colour palette. This collection may not have been the most shocking or the most progressive but, in terms of nailing a new aesthetic that has the potential to appeal to a wide audience of men, Casely-Hayford is hard to beat.
The second highlight comes courtesy of Sarah Burton, who took the New Romantics of the 1980s and seemingly sent them to war with a collection themed around military insignia. From the ornate stud detailing on the leather creepers to the printed peacock lapels on a knee-length overcoat, the entire collection appeared excellently-crafted, with an emphasis on a restrained aesthetic and a return to tailoring (a nod to McQueen's Savile Row roots). The prints crossed brocade with camouflage, resulting in a tailored khaki coat emblazoned with a pattern of dark grey roses - a marked contrast between the darkness of war and the beauty of remembrance. All concept aside, the collection also spawned some of the season's strongest looks - the opening looks featuring words such as "Valour", "Honour" and "Truth" were reminiscent of Raf Simons in his menswear heyday, and they served as the perfect example that sometimes a timeless aesthetic with a strong message is the best example of modern menswear.
ADA & NIK
The evolution of London brand Ada & Nik is fascinating to watch; after tackling the jumpsuit last season, the design duo this season tackle the dungaree, to outstanding result. Having built an empire around the bad-boy staple, the leather jacket, the duo have continued to extend their sartorial reach, experimenting with sustainable textiles and unique silhouettes in order to build a strong following and a distinctive aesthetic. As is their trademark, Ada & Nik keep within a monochrome colour palette and instead choose to play with texture, juxtaposing mesh with neoprene and leather with cotton in order to create a fabric juxtaposition and a visual feast. Perhaps the most-discussed garment of the collection was the result of a collaboration with tech brand 'Narrative', a jacket with a built-in camera which serves as just another example of the ways in which high-tec is filtering into the sartorial arena. In terms of an overall aesthetic, loose silhouettes prevailed this season; one of the standout looks was an oversized sweatshirt that wasn't quite grey nor cream; it had the mottled effect of a jumper that had been beloved for years, and it showed a new, softer side to the duo's aesthetic. Elsewhere, the technical fabrics were in full force to create a collection that was rooted in 'sport' fabrics rendered in high-end silhouettes; the use of breathable materials introduce a new functional factor to an everyday wardrobe, whereas the 'Narrative' jacket was an example of technological innovation designed to appeal to the modern, tech-savvy man.
SIBLING as a brand has received plenty of publicity recently thanks to a design of theirs which was subsequently ripped off (without credit) by Spanish high-street giant Zara. The story came as a surprise to nobody, but it did catapult the young designers into a realm of tabloid recognition, so the choice to create such a strong theme for this collection was an incredibly wise move. Sticking to a bold colour palette of fluorescent hot pink, the duo created a series of looks which were instantly recognisable and refreshingly daring. Hot pink rubber? On a man? Check. If the designs sound outrageous on paper, they worked well in the context of the show and could also work well in the context of the right wardrobe. Fashion often comes under criticism for being unwearable (and it has to be said that a definite 'club kid' look is IMPERATIVE to pull off a floor length latex coat), but this experimental collection wielded some surprising successes. The hot pink cobweb jumper worked well, as did the candy-coloured fairisle and ribbed pink tracksuit; although they were styled with giant knitted monsters and fluoro hair, there was definite high-street potential nestled amongst the weirdness.