20 Jun. 2012
REPORT: LONDON COLLECTIONS: MENWho cares about the London Olympics, or the Queen for that matter, when there’s British menswear to gush about? The first edition of London Collections: Men (15-17 June) closed on Sunday with the feeling that the folk at the British Fashion Council went home feeling rather pleased with their achievements, and rightly so. LCM displayed the effortless fluidity and relaxed atmosphere of a much more established affair. Footwear designer and exhibitor Marc Hare of Mr Hare had this to say: “British menswear is a strong proposition and it has finally been given its own platform. The inaugural event was well organised but I’m sure it will grow and improve over the next few seasons. It sits well in the calendar, too. By the time buyers come to Paris, there will already be a buzz about the collections.”
The three-day event compellingly highlighted the strength of the local menswear scene by bringing together 48 of the best contenders working across different facets of the men’s fashion sphere. Richard Nicoll and Jonathan Saunders added a progressive edge to the schedule, while Richard James and Spencer Hart represented the tailoring brigade. Meanwhile, Oliver Spencer’s collection of cool, off-beat jackets, board shorts and light knits confirmed that London is the current go-to destination for indie labels looking for a broader scope, a feeling that was further solidified by the eclectic choice of models that ranged from fresh faced youngsters to greying, bespectacled men.
Paul Smith, who will for now continue to show his collections in Paris, participated via an alternative format and took to the stage together with Suzy Menkes to talk about the industry and his personal take on it. Afterwards the audience was invited to ask questions, each of which was followed by an Annie Hall lookalike darting between seats and offering the participating journalist a gift from a massive leather holdall. Suzy Menkes received two: a rubber chicken and some bunting to use as a bikini – a piece of sartorial advice offered by Sir Paul.
There were plenty of ground-breaking ideas at this year’s edition of LCM, a characteristic that has come to define London as a fashion destination. Many such concepts were presented at the Fashion East Menswear Installation. Highlights included the collections of St Martins graduate and “DIY enthusiast” Craig Green, whose clean silhouettes were given depth with the use of tactile materials such as crinkle washed calico, mohair, knitting yard and screen printed suede. The Danish designer Astrid Andersen is another promising talent whose collections have already been picked up by key retailers such as Storm in Copenhagen. This season she presented a range of gym-inspired pieces that seem to have undergone a surreal makeover courtesy of eye-popping colours and über-feminine materials such as delicate lace and silk organza. JW Anderson, who showed as part of the main schedule, also employed lace extensively, sometimes using the material to cover the whole body in diaphanous shirt and trouser combos.
In terms of the event’s logistics, the BFC recognised that yet another “week” might put a strain on buyers and members of the press and sagely ensured that most presentations were held in central locations. Organizers also made sure to pick a practical spot for their event base, “The Hub.” Housed within Covent Garden’s hip members-only Hospital Club, it encompassed the BFC catwalk space, press area and bar as well as a designer exhibition spread across two floors with one level dedicated to accessories and the other to ready-to-wear collections. There was also ample news from the 30 participating brands: DS Dundee introduced a mini-line of selvage denim jeans, for example, while Jas M B launched a range of two-tone sneakers to complement his bag offering, which has attracted a solid fan base for its ability to unite practicality and subtle edginess.
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