It’s a common misconception that London fashion week is spent flopping about in furs, eating French fancies and throwing champagne around. In reality, it’s exhausting. Schlepping from show to show in a merry fashion caravan quickly looses its charm – particularly when caught in a non-committal drizzle. That said, when shows are good – as they were at yesterday’s LFW menswear day – they make the work worthwhile. So, without further ado, here’s our rundown from the second half of the day, with highlights from Oliver Spencer, James Long and E.Tautz.
Given Patrick Grant’s passion for oratory, it was a surprise that he chose to forgo his usual look-by-look commentary yesterday, in favour of a brief – if eloquent – introduction to his AW’11 collection.
Citing the Isle of Mull as his tonal inspiration for the show with characteristic poetry, Grant had us enthral. And, true to form, the colours were remarkable. Deep shades of dusty red, mustard yellows – particularly strong found in a fluid cashmere pea coat – and varying shades of brown worked in perfect unison, found in immaculately cut cords, vented bombers and jumpers - a few of which came with playful appliqué additions, like a stylised take on a Castilo from the King of Spain's coat of arms - to whom E. Tautz held the royal warrant (though we thought they looked like sandcastles). Lovely.
It’s no secret that Autumn Winter is an easier season to get right than Spring Summer, with layering and weightier materials on the designers sides. Regardless, Long’s AW 11 collection, shown yesterday afternoon, was of the strongest of the day, and perhaps Long’s best to date. Slim-fit, flecked wool trousers were wonderful and knits were strong. Long’s lace-up boots and heavy leather jackets, lined liberally with shearling, had staple potential, while the PVC trousers, sparkly knits and cow hide jackets managed to appear more Jagger than Elton John - a feat in itself.
Perhaps the day’s most wearable collection, British designer Oliver Spencer pulled out all the stops for his catwalk debut, shown yesterday evening in a white washed Covent Garden Studio. Modelled by a host of ‘real men’ including the likes of Johnnie Sapong - Jude Law’s be-dread locked hairdresser – and a lot of tattoo covered beardies, the collection was a lesson in Spencer’s unique brand of work wear. Raw denim jeans came accompanied by deconstructed suit jackets with sloping shoulders and exposed seems. The donkey jackets, red-soled lace-ups and check shirts for which we know and love the British designer were everywhere, while the addition of camouflage pieces added an energetic dimension.
Bally X CSM
The opportunity to escape the heaving throng of Somerset House for Mayfair’s Claridge’s Hotel was too tempting to resist, so yesterday afternoon, the team hopped over Regent Street to take a look at Bally’s latest collection, produced in collaboration with Central St Martin’s MA student Craig Green. Featuring four pieces in two colour ways and materials including felt, suede, canvas and calf leather, the shoes are reminiscent of B Store’s puzzle-cut lace-ups and they’re actually very good indeed. The navy lace-up with a central canvas cut-away was worthy of particular note - though the moss green, cork-soled pieces were equally exciting. The capsule collection will be making its way into stores later this year, so watch this space for more.
When a member of the Royal Family attends a LFW presentation, you can be sure the show will be one of two things - a sublime synthesis of craftsmanship and creativity, or an embarrassingly twee exercise in smoke blowing – Hardy Amies AW 11 collection, shown yesterday at the tailor’s Savile Row premises under the watchful eyes of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, was the former. Designed by Claire Malcolm, who cut her teeth with Kim Jones at E.Tautz, the collection is inspired by the European society circles of the 1930s. Fine polo neck knits sat beneath satin shirts and super-slim double breasted jackets, bright heavy knits came accompanies by flat fronted trousers in flannel and dinner jackets came in understated jacquard. Wonderful stuff, exciting times ahead at Hardy Amies.
Words by Teo van den Broeke