Is London fading?

fashion January 11, 2018 01:00


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Short on stars, the British capital aims to stay in fashion with youth

THE DRIFT away from London Men’s Fashion Week by established designers has seen the number of parades drop by a dozen this year.

It has led to questions about whether the British event, the youngest of the annual fashion weeks, can still compete with Paris, Milan and New York.

The British Fashion Council, the organiser, hopes it can still flourish by allowing young and upcoming designers to showcase their talents.

Caroline Rush, the council’s chief executive, said the 2018 edition would be “a celebration of discovery and the creative diversity that has made London an international hub for menswear”.

A raft of emerging names in British fashion featured their clothes, including the luxury streetwear of Edward Crutchley – dubbed a “rising star” by Vogue – and the bold neo-punk hip-hop wardrobe of Liam Hodges.

Christopher Raeburn joined them, a pioneer in ethical fashion and recycling materials, and Astrid Andersen, who creates sportswear.

“There’s a variety of brands on the schedule,” said Rush, pushing back on notions that London Men’s Fashion Week is petering out. “Perhaps a new gem will emerge, thanks to the extra attention.”

Gender-fluid clothes, dartboards and bright orange – here are some of the trends and highlights from Men’s Fashion Week in London, which wrapped up on Monday.

Organisational reasons kept big names away from this edition – Burberry presents its mixed male-female collection in February – so the men’s event went back to its roots by promoting young designers.

London is the “capital of creativity”, said Rush of the Fashion Council.

One example was Man, an initiative by retailer Topman and non-profit Fashion East that helps develop new talent. This year it supported the London debut of gender-fluid design duo Art School.

Male and female models wore clothes designed to be worn by either, including a red pinstriped shift dress overlaid with a belted corset, the wearer’s hairy chest showing through.

There is nothing like wearing bright colours on dull winter days, and What We Wear, the label founded by London rapper-singer-songwriter Tinie Tempah, had neon-orange scarves, T-shirts and trousers inspired by high-visibility construction wear.

At Christopher Raeburn, which prides itself on sustainable designs, orange was also a dominant theme in a collection that transformed air and sea rescue uniforms into modern streetwear, with long padded jackets, gloves and waterproof boots.

Hussein Chalayan used a palette of brown, yellow and black, while Oliver Spencer, who creates tailored casual chic, used ochre and charcoal grey in his latest collection modelled by a range of ages.

After the carefully coiffed metrosexual and the bearded lumbersexual, is it time for the urban cowboy? 

It’s not impossible, if you believe Astrid Andersen, a young designer who matched sportswear with Stetson hats, electric blue puffas and overclothes with tartan designs.

Liam Hodges offered a more subdued look, which stayed true to his hip-hop and neo-punk roots while imagining a disturbing future, with “killer clown” smileys adorning oversized black jumpers.

An outfit resembling two dartboards, one worn on the head – the face a bull’s-eye – and one on the body, over a shimmering, colourful dress with an electrical extension cord for a necklace.

It was the creation of Rottingdean Bazaar, a label by James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks, two former students from London talent hub Central Saint Martins, who are forging a reputation for provocative style.

Notably absent from this season's Men’s Fashion Week, the high priestess of punk, Vivienne Westwood, chose to display her latest collection through a series of images and videos posted online.

“Don’t Get Killed” had a |military theme, with models sporting cartridge belts and khakis and posing on army beds, multicoloured oil drums and military-style bunk beds.

A long-time political campaigner, including against Brexit, Westwood also staged models holding European and British flags.