This upcoming autumn is set to be a season about baggy clothes, bold shapes, badass bad boys, and boys dressed like their dads! Or at least according to a few key shows at London’s fashion week for men. A change seem to be in the air for FW17 as designers left behind old ideas like safe tailoring and laid-back athleisure wear in exchange for concepts inspired by labels like Comme des Garçons & Junya Watanabe; think irregular silhouettes, mammoth dimensions, awkward asymmetry and creative colour choices. We run you through these changes with our favourite show statement-makers.
Feng Chen Wang
Chinese fashion graduate Feng Chen Wang seemed to be the ultimate symbol of this new chapter in the London fashion landscape with a show full of fabric manipulation and eccentric proportions. Models walked out onto the cold concrete floors of a cavernous new show-space in the Old Selfridges Hotel wearing a fresh concoction of similarly cutting-edge materials; glistening metallic leathers, plush down fillings and fantastically ruched cottons were blended with high-shine tech fabrics that were warped into a myriad of mind-bending shapes. Coats were transformed into futuristic space-suits featuring detachable panels and slick Superman-style capes, while jackets and jumpers were whipped into asymmetric s alignments that rippled like soft scoops of deliciously ice-cold ice cream. The comic-book yellow track pants and knits accentuated the playful Marvel super hero mood as Madagascan vanilla and cappuccino colours provided a sweeter alternative to some of the darker and more directional looks.
This exaggerated and edgy aesthetic continued in Craig Green’s runway offering, which seemed to perfect his already well-established approach to fabric deconstruction. His signature oversized silhouette remained as well as his artistic and inventive sense of form; twisted Obi belt ropes wrapped around waistlines in an ode to Japanese Geisha girls while patchworks, quilting and ruffled embellishments morphed standard ready-to-wear looks into instant works of art. But this approach simply paid homage to Green’s regular fashion formula. What didn’t this season was his hyperbolic use of print and his highly conceptual layered looks which inflated his usual clothing contours into Michelin-man proportions. Gigantic coats featuring cut-out panels engulfed model silhouettes while trousers, t-shirts and jumpers were loosely layered up over each-other like a mishmash of wedding-cake ingredients. The use of Middle Eastern magic carpet prints added to this outlandish atmosphere, taking Green’s high-impact looks to a more mystical level.
Striking visual statements were also the order of the day for J.W. Anderson, who gave priority to elongated silhouettes and explosively wide proportions with his range of wrap-around serpent-shaped scarves, colourful crochet knits and blown-up balloon-like sweat pants. The big, bold and brash silhouette was once again emphasised as sweaters swamped models with never-ending sleeves while shirts draped to the knees and coats caressed the body like thick duvet blankets. But the real eye-opener came in the form of cute crochet knitwear featuring quaintly stitched blossoms that would make grandma proud. The charm factor was augmented with a range of kaleidoscopic tees featuring images of the English countryside complete with cornfields and rustic wooden fences. Stained glass panels from a Church window also appeared on dishevelled denims, as the world of the chocolate-box Cotswolds village merged with gritty inner-city East-end streets.
English symbolism was also shaken to the core by Patrick Grant this season, who showcased an eclectic line-up of smart young gents in tweed and sensible macs for the E Tautz label. At first glance, the affair was more subdued when compared with the vibrant showmanship of Green or Chen Wang, but on closer inspection, things were just as offbeat and jagged as these aforementioned contemporaries. Take for example the classic herringbone trouser, which was radically transformed into a baggy sweat pant with the use of excessive drapery, while pleated slacks appeared to be two sizes too big, giving them a playfully casual mood. Smart blazers were stretched into loose-fitting pieces that flouted every conventional tailoring rule, while cardigan and polo combos with ragged collars were lazily unbuttoned like a teenage tearaway rebelling against his school uniform dress code. This nonchalant aesthetic has redefined what it means to be a smart Savile-Row dressed Brit in a safely tailored two-piece. Forget sticking to rules and mess around instead this season, like a college hipster being effortlessly cool in his grandad’s tweed hand-me-down that doesn’t quite fit. Cutting-loose and caring less is much more fun anyways it seems, according to Mr Grant.
Liam Hodges also flouted the rules this season by mashing up a mesmerising mix of clashing concepts, vivid visuals and fanciful fabric techniques. His typically sports-focused perspective was still noticeable, with plentiful iterations of hyper-hued hooded tops, athletic track pants and the obligatory Converse sneaker. But things looked more adventurous this season as he swapped out the monotones for dizzying distorted prints, while reinterpreting key looks with advanced techniques like ruching, deconstruction and appliqué. The focus this season was on ‘Dystopia’ for Hodges, which is apparent in the warped X-ray graphic prints on his t-shirts as well as the corrupted digital fonts displayed across key ribbed knitwear looks. But colours and patterns were complimentary as opposed to discordant, bursting with nature and a youthful sense of defiance; think forest green camouflage and zesty tangerine tones in the voluminous puffa jackets tumbled with acid neon yellow sweatshirts scrawled with attention-grabbing slogans. The vibe was definitely still sporty, but with a much more risk-taking edge.
Astrid Andersen followed suit by giving tried-and-tested approaches a new lease of life through the application of avant-garde processes. Although staying loyal to her sports-luxe fan base with her tracksuit and trainer combinations, she chose to elevate the opulence of key pieces by crafting them from exceptionally lavish materials including fur, sumptuous velvets, patterned silks and soft corduroys. The decadence was immediately apparent in the robe-like parka coats and shearling collar jackets that featured glistening golden zips, while bombers with quilted panels emerged in bold bronze hues. Exotic leopard print pieces were also artfully intertwined with coats and hooded jackets in precious sapphire and silver accents. Such looks served to support the equally alluring silk-blend shirts and pants that were adorned with the vibrant feathers of sub-tropical bird species. The addition of iridescent gold sunglasses and lustrous feather-fringed berets rounded off the collection with a discerningly different mood that was grand in its execution. And while Astrid’s boys were still as badass as ever, strutting down the catwalk in their hoodies with a streetwear swagger, they were different this time, like Hip-hop stars flashing the cash in careless and carefree new ways. As always with fashion week, some things stay constant, while other things radically change.