ShortList's style director, Adrian Clark, profiles his five standout shows presented at the capital's seasonal showcase...
“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”. Christopher Bailey, the formidable CEO and chief creative officer of this ubiquitous British heritage label, was uncharacteristically ‘vague’ in the description of his autumn 2016 menswear show presented to an audience that included Brooklyn Beckham and Mark Ronson. Normally his references are very specific in their translation, but in place of a scene-setting and ‘literal’ theme, his collections notes read like a wish list of must-own wardrobe staples, in realisation reworked with an indie-Burberry-man twist.
In a season where Bailey has decided to consolidate all of his lines, Burberry Brit, London and Prorsum, merging them into just one ‘Burberry’ collection, the label has never looked more confident, relaxed and quite frankly relevant. Coats and outerwear were the heroes of the show, including A-line re-issue trenches, oversized flight jackets, duffle coats, military coats with regimental red piping and even a silver fox jacket, worn over “70’s inspired tracksuit tops (sometimes realised in sequins) and with subtly flared tailored trousers – at their best with cavalry stripes, sneakers and a retro satchel slung over one shoulder.
Sarah Burton doesn’t make clothes to simply empower, her collections for Alexander McQueen are both respectful to the legacy of the man who’s name still hangs above the door and tread the line between well-crafted art and high-fashion. There is always a dichotomy between the romantic and the eerie in her work, as there was in the collections presented by the man himself, a dark corner in a beautiful vista.
For this collection, motifs of moths and butterflies were woven into tailored fabrics, for angular tailored suits, or fluttered across coats that had velvet ribbon hems. Hussar jackets in scarlet red with jet beading, historically referenced and military inspired Victoriana met with an almost punk sensibility – the models wore silver jewellery that appeared to pierce through their cheeks – in essence a brave and mostly breathtaking example of what can be achieved when the idea of ‘everyday’ is put on ice in favour of championing the bold, the beautiful and the original, without the confines of having to march to the drum of convention.
Having a voice – and being heard – in the ever-increasing landscape of ‘next-big-thing’ young designers is hard, especially in London, a place that seems to be way more accepting of fledgling talent than either Paris or Milan. That said, winning Best Emerging Menswear Designer at the last British Fashion Awards has definitely given Grace Wales Bonner a head start.
Unlike many of her young contemporaries, for which street-style sportswear is ‘the thing’ she celebrates the male peacock via African-influenced themes. Presenting for the first time as part of the MAN fashion collective of young designers, her autumn 2016 show put her firmly on the map, with velvet sportswear trimmed in crystal, worn with 70’s style suiting and colour-blocked fine-rib knits. Our tip is there are even greater things to come from this Central Saint Martins trained young-blood.
Massimo Nicosia’s collection for Pringle of Scotland explored uncharted territory in terms of innovation for knitwear and in the process achieved an impressive level of ‘cool’ which is no mean feat for a brand celebrating and in turn having to be respectful of 200 years of heritage.
The structure of grid patterns and prints was the emphasis of the collection, inspired by the work of artist Agnes Martin, with a linear framework of checks in ever expanding scales. Monochrome squares that appeared to be lightly chalked on to a suit, a repetitious tartan pattern on a wool melton coat and a hybrid of the traditional Prince of Wales check in knit were among the collection’s high points. Flashes of tangerine orange broke up the mainly dark colour palette, with a nod to utility wear in khaki and olive green. While the collection also included leather and quilting, the focus, understandably, was on knitwear as outerwear, a restriction most designers would find stifling but such challenges are what seem to excite and inspire Nicosia and invariably make him stronger.
“Finding the Heroic in everyday American life” was the mantra at Stuart Vevers outing for Coach 1941. East-coast, blue-collar masculine style done his way with an influence of Bruce Springsteen meets the early days of New York hip-hop felt very authentic, if abstract in its juxtaposition for the US based brand.
Luxe-to-the-touch - and in feel - but totally unpretentious pimped out leather coats, Drug Store Cowboy shirt-jackets in tan hyde, shearlings and beaten up leather bikers, a contemporary spin on the plaid shirt (also transferred into knit polos), puffers and dark denim work wear, all accessorised with bucket hats, fly hi-tops and bandanas knotted at the waistband of jeans – presumably inspired by ‘The Boss’.
It doesn't sound that groundbreaking on paper, somehow though in the hands of the Yorkshire-born boy, this classic Americana was given a new lease of life, adding an element of fun and youthfulness to its aesthetic.