London Collections: Men ended on Monday following an extended four-day run which packed in dozens of runway shows, presentations and events across the capital, showcasing every type of men’s fashion imaginable. Now that the frenzy is over, here are some of the less-reported aspects of the menswear shows you may have missed.
1. Paul Smith’s back-flipping acrobat models
Sir Paul may still show his menswear line in Paris, but London is still at the heart of his global empire and a Paul Smith presentation is now a standard feature of LC:M. This time he reversed expectations of a static presentation by using a team of acrobats to demonstrate the relative indestructability of his ‘a suit to travel in’ with some incredible athletic feats (and no crash mats in sight).
2. All that glitters: elaborate decoration and embellishment
After a few seasons where solid colour and pared-back form has been at the core of many collections, embellishment was a feature at London menswear shows this season. There was everything from Rajasthan-inspired mirrored fabrics at Burberry Prorsum, to Kit Neale’s collaboration with iconic artist, jewelry designer and Alternative Miss World founder Andrew Logan. At Fashion East, CSM graduate Grace Wales Bonner’s evocation of the Harlem Renaissance came festooned with cowrie-shell details and louche crushed velvet. Also at Fashion East, Edward Crutchley’s embroidered sportswear showed off the fabric maestro’s expertise (he also designs fabrics for Louis Vuitton).
3. Louboutin clogs at E.Tautz and hot-pink Chelsea boots at Sibling
E.Tautz showed a very sombre collection this season, inspired by moody photography of Northern England by John Bulmer. Footwear for the show was in keeping with this theme, featuring worker clogs, albeit clogs produced in collaboration with no less than Christian Louboutin (complete with signature red soles). E.Tauz wasn’t the only brand to collaborate. You’ve probably seen the headline-grabbing, all-pink collection that Sibling presented at the weekend, complete with matching furry mascots. With so much going on visually, little mention has been made of the shoes – a collaboration with Robert Clergerie in the form of suede Chelsea boots in, of course, hot-pink.
4. Denim that becomes pinstripe at CMMN SWDN and Sheepskin meets denim at James Long
We’re used to miraculous transformations of fabric at the womenswear shows, especially in couture, but here at London Collections: Men there were also examples of ingenious riffs on classic fabric combinations. At CMMN SWDN’s show, denim and pinstripe met midway in a tideline of fabric alchemy, while at James Long shearling collars and patch pockets on denim jackets may have been attached with less mystery but the effect was no less eyecatching.
5. A brown paper suit at Sibling
Speaking of fabric mastery, who else but Sibling would attempt to send a suit made of brown paper down the runway? Inspired by youthful DIY book-covering from their schooldays, the designer trio proved once again their inventiveness and ability to craft beautiful clothing from the least expected materials and inspirations.
6. A who’s who of male models at Belstaff
There was a definite whiff of testosterone as well as motorbike oil at the Belstaff presentation, and with a who’s who of classic model faces from the last 20 years (including the legendary Werner Schreyer) never has a formica caff felt so exciting. Extensive use of shearling on boots and biker jackets reinforced the decadent tone of the event.
7. The next colour for biker jackets at Matthew Miller
Belstaff may have the heritage but Matthew Miller is fast gaining the reputation for designing some of the most covetable biker jackets in town. After last season’s navy and forest green, the designer’s berry-coloured biker jacket was on many a fashion editor’s wish list after the show.
8. Fluffy pink mohair at Lou Dalton and teddy bear fur at Kit Neale
London has gone all out for fluff this season, with shaggy, knitted mohair, shearling and strokeable fur fabrics all suggesting that Paddington Bear has left his paw print on the capital. Lou Dalton added a sub-layer of dusky-pink fuzzy knitted mohair to an otherwise techno overcoat and Kit Neale applied his vibrant palette to mohair teddy bear fur.
9. Suture-like stitching, peep holes and maximal layering at Craig Green’s pitch-perfect presentation
Craig Green continued to impress at one of the most anticipated shows on the schedule, complete with a stirring cinematic soundtrack. From clinging jersey pieces featuring surgical suture-like stitching, to peep holes at the centre of sweaters and his signature complex layering, the potential of clothing to either reveal or protect the body was explored.
10. Tracksuits inspired by Dutch Gabba techno at Baartmans and Siegel
British/Dutch design partnership Baartmans and Siegel are known for their luxurious tailored sportswear and attention to detail, but they can also make visceral statements and their inspiration comes from far and wide. Track suits inspired by the informal uniform of Dutch Gabba techno lovers gave an insight into their origins and the authentic soundtrack ensured that all present were fully awake at their Sunday morning show.
Colin Chapman is a London-based men’s fashion editor and writer, and the founder of Sharpened Lead.com. He has contributed to menswear coverage at The Guardian.