For years, the fashion industry has held the view that – as far as menswear is concerned – ‘Italians do it better’, but if the last couple of seasons are anything to go by, London Collections: Men is ready to give Florence and Milan a run for their money. This should come as no surprise from the city steeped in centuries of sartorial heritage from the skilled tailors of Savile Row to the super cool shops of Shoreditch. In the first of our reports on the AW14 menswear shows, Schön! shows you why it’s time to take another look at London.
Day one offered plenty of reasons to get excited. John Smedley has produced luxury knitwear for over 230 years and its latest collection was inspired by family snapshots and 1930s trips to the Tyrol, but looked bang up-to-date with its geometric patterns and intense colours. Schön! loves the super-soft knitted ski pants. Meanwhile, Matthew Miller chose to focus on a more political message. “I was looking to incorporate angst and sadness, but also hope,” says the designer of the dark but sharp garments, which included flags bearing anarchic texts that doubled as oversized scarves.
Xander Zhou presented an extensive collection which was strongest when it subverted schoolboy style in the form of sports badges on blazers, coats and suits in eye popping shades of violet, paprika and tangerine. The catwalk was even more colourful at Richard Nicoll, from deep berry hues to cool aqua blues and, finally, a veritable rainbow of ruffled shirts.
Highlights of the day included a stunning presentation by Mr. Hare. It’s encouraging to note how menswear brands are thinking outside of the box when it comes to displaying their collections off the catwalk. A clever use of venue, impeccable styling and casting, stirring music and a fine artist in action all worked to reinforce the brand’s message, rather than distract from it. The collection itself was full of treats, from the surprisingly stylish sock garters to the rubber berets – and every inch of it in black. Also worth noting was über luxe shoe brand Louis Leeman, which turned the beautiful Café Royal into an enchanted garden for the evening. The shoes – whether encrusted in crystal and pearls or embroidered in silver guilt – conveyed opulence without being over-the-top and sparkled enticingly within the magical setting.
Words / Huma Humayun