Menswear is a funny thing. Well for me it is anyway. My first proper job was on the launch of British GQ Style, where I developed a weird relationship with clothes for men that has remained with me all these years. At the heart of it, to me, menswear kind of all looks the same. Sorry, I know that isn’t very fashionably PC and of course it doesn’t actually all look the same but there is a repetitiveness that just isn’t as present in the women’s collections; trousers, shorts, t-shirts, shirts, sweaters, jackets and the odd skirt. That’s it really. I remember doing the credits for a 14 page grey suit story that was the cover feature of that first issue of GQ Style. I spent a whole two days looking at grey suits, white shirts, striped silk ties and brogues. It basically did me in.
But, and it is a big but, menswear has changed. And nowhere is this more apparent than at the relatively recent addition of a London Men’s Fashion Week. Men, it seems, are braver. They are younger. They are more willing to wear skirts. So it happens that LC:M turns out to be a colourful, vibrant, and exciting spot on the catwalk calendar that swings quite dramatically between incredibly wearable and desirable attire for the everyday man, and things that are, well, not.
One of my stand-out collections from the week was by the MAN-sponsored Nicomede Talavera, who sent boys down the runway in blocks of colour, stripe, check and leather in long almost-a-dress tunics, what-looked-like wrap-skirts, and crop tops. Basically I want to wear it and it is incredibly editorial. Whether many blokes would give it a go is another matter.
Manly respite was found at Oliver Spencer who showed standard Oliver Spencer – great clothes that men wear, superbly styled on real-men models while a drumming band banged their drums and dancing girls came out at the end. Trust me, it was a winner. Another hit was the recently refreshed dunhill, whose expensive-looking models sported subtle hues of British summer including their own take on a Hawaiian print featuring our very own exotic British flora.
Androgyny was key at the men’s shows; there was much to lure in the women’s fashion editors as more and more women wear oversized styles and steal their boyfriends’ jeans. Kit Neale was the playful hit with colourful prints of retro Coca Cola and cacti on jeans, jackets, and dungarees. The models at Common were so pretty I was almost sure a few of them were girls. But here the look was the modern man: a super normal monochrome palette of jeans, sweatshirts and some very nice jackets. Much will be written about this season’s collections and I hope, a lot of clothes will be sold off the back of it. As with the Women’s collections, London holds it own as the melting pot of the wearable and the creative. Sometimes it is hard to see which does or should preside, but at the heart of it there are some stunningly talented designers being true to themselves, and what could be better than that?
Text and photos by Katy Lassen