"GLADIATORS, STREET PUNKS, SHARKS: OH MY!": HIGHLIGHTS FROM LONDON'S MENS FASHION WEEK

January 16, 2013 12:28 PM

The AW’13 season kicked off last week in London with three days devoted to men’s collections from burgeoning new talents as well as industry veterans like Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen.

A highlight during the men’s shows was designers Joe Bates, Cozette McCreey & Sid Bryan’s collection for their label, Sibling.  The knitwear designers AW’13 outing drew inspiration from Richard Hell, Jayne County and other early punk rock aesthetics.  Models raced by on a catwalk featuring Hell’s infamous slogan (which also was the title of Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s “uncensored oral history of punk” released in 2006) “Please Kill Me,” spelled out in bouquets of brightly colored flowers, adding a cheeky softness to the anarchic attitudes of punk.  The slogan appeared again on the opening look, blooming on the front of a black chunky knit sweatshirt accessorized with matching oversized snood and boxing mitt shaped gloves.  Each look also featured huge layered knit hats reminiscent of an exploding mushroom cloud. Traditional leopard print was quelled in blush pink appearing on track pants, shorts and cardigans, especially noteworthy when deftly injected into panels of Fair Isle printed sweaters and scarves.  The result was entrancing: paving the way for the harder blood red and jet black looks that rounded out the collection’s refreshing nod to punk.

Punk did have some of its roots in London so it wasn’t a surprise that an air of anarchy and a desire for change permeated many of the season’s best collections.  Designers, tired of the traditional menswear staples associated with Saville Row and tailored suiting, sought to push the boundaries of what is sartorially acceptable for men.  Streetwear was one antidote to tradition and influenced the collections of Katie Eary and Astrid Andersen.  Andersen presented her final collection with the assistance of MAN (an incubator for young menswear designers sponsored by Topman and Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East) this season to much success.  A standout look consisted of an inky denim vest accented with copper mink trim along the seams and collar.  In Andersen’s hands, streetwear takes on new life as her bombers, tracksuits, and sweatshirts are realized in the most luxe fabrics.  Katie Eary is also part of the new wave of high-street designers infiltrating London’s menswear scene. Eary’s models were sent down the runway with wet, slicked back hair and donned spiky shark teeth fangs.   Gold chains dripping from the models’ necks completed the look. Rose and shark prints in a palette of contrasting shades of electric pink and blue dominated the collection. The prints appeared on covetable T-s as well as statement outerwear: neoprene perfectos and bombers included.  For the less adventurous, Eary updated black wool coats with ribbed leather sleeves and showed smart black skinny jeans with eyelet lace-ups spiraling down each leg.

Streetwear was less clear-cut than in previous seasons at Shaun Samson’s debut solo show (the past three seasons he showed as part of MAN) but not to any less effect or success.  Highlights included patchworked oversize tops cut like football (American football, not its British counterpart) jerseys and were worn with wide leather wader shorts, furry earmuffs and combat boots.  Intarsia knits also came complete with scribbles of the “Serenity Prayer” and repeated on cozy blankets models slung over their shoulders -perfect for your next nap at an AA meeting.  Iridescent denim puffer vests and jackets rounded out this noteworthy, street-ready collection.

J.W. Anderson’s brand ethos is to distort conventional gender norms.  For his AW’13 menswear outing he took cues from his SS’13 women’s collection and sent his men down the runway in ruffled short shorts or bandeau tops complete with knee-high leather boots.  His narrow tunics could read as feminine cocktail dresses, but perhaps upon closer inspection they alluded to masculine gladiatorial get-ups of yore, showcasing each model’s toned muscles and manly physiques.  Whichever way you perceive the collection, J.W. Anderson’s clothes definitely stimulated thought, elevating his habiliments to the realm of the cerebral.  Such polarizing and perspicacious fashion is suitable for any gender.

 

 

WRITTEN BY: MICHAEL COSTA

 

 

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