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Menswear muses

Menswear muses

Menswear muses

From biker gangs to ice-hockey players, the UK’s top designers tell Emily Phillips about the unlikely influences powering their collections

We tracked down British fashion’s leading names to discover the films, directors, artistic movements, sports and, um, eccentric aristocrats that helped shape their autumn/winter 2013 collections. Expect a pleasingly eclectic mix, interspersed with some downright derangement.

“He’s eccentric, flamboyant and pretty gangsta”

Agi Mdumulla of Agi & Sam muses on the colourful Marquess of Bath

Having just launched a diffusion line in Topman, Agi & Sam is leading the charge for young designers at London Collections. The brand’s autumn/winter 2013 muse was the Marquess Of Bath, because the pair loved “how cool, eccentric and flamboyant he is”. The ‘Loins Of Longleat’ has, as Mdumulla told us, “got like, 70 women, which is pretty gangsta”.

But before you Google Image search the mad old marquess and write the whole thing off, Mdumulla says they’ve toned down his pattern-clashing smocks for a more refined crowd: “We want it to be for the creative, interesting man who maybe has a bit of money.” Check your peacock-feather wallet, and proceed.


“It’s my homage to biker culture”

Rising star Alex Mattsson on scrubbing up the Hells Angel myth

“I have always been interested in motorcycles and biker culture, so I often touched upon it in my work, but this collection is my homage. I needed to get it out of my system.

“There’s a Los Angeles biker club called the Mongols who were one of the first biker clubs – they don’t like to be called gangs – that was racially mixed.

“These were people who couldn’t join the Hells Angels as it was white only: Mexicans and black guys who wanted their own club.

“Where Hells Angels don’t wash and are kind of rockier, the Mongols are really clean with box-fresh white T-shirts and all-black motorcycles, which I found really inspiring.

“I can’t afford to have a bike at the moment. I’ve had several in the past, but I had to sell them to pay for my work. Yeah, sad story. I find bikers’ clubs and gangs super- interesting but I’m way too soft.

“I like to look the part, but compared to them I’m a complete poseur.

“This latest collection of mine would be me if I were a hard-arse gang member – in my dream world that’s what I would be.”


“It’s Texan oil baron in tartan”

New style legend Lou Dalton on the film behind her designs

Classic 1983 film Local Hero stars Peter Riegert “as a Texan oil baron who goes to a remote island in Scotland and puts this oil rig in the middle of this blissful, idyllic place”. Inspired by the film, Dalton has worked on her own take on men’s styling, evolving past her military theme of previous collections.

She met the man of her dreams while on a weaving trip in the Shetlands. Utilising Shetland wools, with hints of “rebellious tartan”, for her autumn/winter collection, she conjured the “idea of mixing Texan city boy with this remote, Shetland country”.


Hitchcock, Savile Row and gutsy masculinity”

Gieves & Hawkes’ Jason Basmajian is aiming to transform the stalwart tailor in his first season. Here, he talks us through his right royal inspiration

“I joined as creative director at the end of January to start spring/summer 2014. But when I arrived, we decided that we really didn’t like autumn/winter 2013. So instead of missing a whole season, we reworked the entire collection – it was kind of amazing that we pulled it off.

“My inspiration comes from this tradition of tailoring and the fact that Gieves & Hawkes was initially a bespoke and military purveyor.

“Inspired by actually being at No1 Savile Row, I decided to close the gap between bespoke and ready-to-wear.

“We launched a completely new capsule collection called the ‘Royal Line’, which is all beautiful quality, handcrafted, made in England and carries the three royal warrants [regal seals issued by members of the monarchy].

“We also launched a collection of Northampton bench-made shoes, cap-toe, monk-strap or lace-up chocolate brown suede, polished crocodile or hand-burnished leather, to complement the clothes.

“A lot of our outerwear and upper-casuals pieces are made in factories in and around London, which is exciting – I didn’t expect to find so much manufacturing available here.

“That gives the gentleman an option to come in and buy that level of ready-to-wear from Gieves & Hawkes which we didn’t have before. All the piece goods are British; Shetlands, cashmeres, urban tweeds.

“We revisited classic gentlemen’s prints, such as the Prince Of Wales check, but in a new proportion.

“We styled things differently, made them more sophisticated and modern, but with a nod to Savile Row’s classic British gentleman tailoring.

“For me, it was all about the elegant man’s edited-down capsule wardrobe: the perfect blue blazer, the perfect camel coat, a three-piece tweed suit, a navy flannel suit, a peacock blue velvet shawl-collared dinner jacket, a Shetland coat in country tweed.

“I am inspired a lot by Hitchcock – that era when men were incredibly glamorous in a suit.

“I was also drawn to this very British notion of town and country: the English gentleman revisited. I looked to our military heritage for detailing: military-inspired pocketing, double-breasted pea coats, fabrics that look quite technical but feel really luxurious. We don’t have great weather, so a lot of the pieces are windproof and waterproof – beautiful tailored trench coats and macs. Everything is still quite urban in its feel, but there is an acknowledgement that everything also looks and feels English.

“Obviously, being purveyors to the royal household is definitely important. If you look at the runways in New York and Paris, there is a lot of inspiration coming from Britain, in particular Savile Row. But it’s not in a dandy way; it’s strong and masculine. Textures and fabrics are gutsier, styling is simplistic yet elegant, lines are very graphic and architectural.

“We are inspired by men who have made dressing up cool again.”


“Vampires and a banquet of death”

The ground- breaking Katie Eary talks blood-suckers

“For autumn/winter 2013, I began by looking at vampires: I wanted to create a banquet of death,” says Eary. “This moved on to death and decay. Vampires cannot enjoy anything: sex, love or taste. They have an extravagant life but no happiness. The life of a vampire is having everything, but having nothing, [a sort of] soullessness. My muse was also the life of a teenage boy, who [clings to] everything, but has nothing of his own. It boils down to a mum who can grind you down at the drop of a hat.”

We don’t know what she’s talking about. Er, moving on…


“We fused sportswear and tailoring”

Charlie Casely-Hayford of Casely-Hayford pops in his gumshield for ice hockey-inspired chic

Everyone else might be into Haçienda-infused baggy, but in the studio of father-son label Casely-Hayford, the Nineties vibe is all hip-hop and ice hockey. They’ve even created a fictional team: “The Kingsland Knights represent the diverse cultures and sub-cultures that make London so great,” says Charlie (the son in the duo). “We looked at new ways to fuse sportswear and tailoring: replacing jacket lapels with jersey ribbed collars, making classic overcoats in Neoprene.” Sounds wearable, but will we have to sport the pads and freaky masks? “The ice-hockey appeal was more about its social relevance: Nineties artists used the jerseys as a statement of identity.” So don’t be a healthy scratch (Google it, we had to) – get your shirt on for the winter freeze.


“The humour of John Waters appeals to me”

James Long selects three cult films from the notorious gonzo director that shaped his autumn/winter 2013 collection

Pink Flamingos

“We did a Pink Flamingos jumper, which was a greeny jumper with a pink flamingo on it. A lot of the colours came from the wrongness of it all, which I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen without having that sort of influence.

“They were almost Seventies, but we picked very modern tones from those reference colours: coffee and egg yellow, inspired by Edith Massey as the egg lady. Even in the film sets there were all of these crazy, influential colours, such as a bright blue fridge.”


“I remember watching Hairspray when I was really young, about 10 or 12. I didn’t even know Divine was a man when I first watched it. I liked how all of those first films were quite punk – there was no massive budgets: a real ‘make-do and go for it’ feel. There are definitely experimental pieces [in my collection] which happened from just having a go.”


“Dexter the Foot Stomper was a bit of a muse for my collection. As much as the films, it was about John Waters’ own personal style. His humour really appeals to me; it’s just so outrageous. A lot of the characters wear dressing gowns, so we also did this bomber-jacket-dressing-gown hybrid.”


“I imagined the Bauhaus having a weekend away”

Claire Malcolm, Creative Director at Hardy Amies, on keeping the party spirit alive in the most stylish manner possible

Legendary English fashion designer Sir Edwin Hardy Amies was often found scampering through some society do in search of a drinking den. So it makes sense that Hardy Amies, the Savile Row label that bears his name, is drawing inspiration from hard-living cool. Creative director Claire Malcolm says that for the autumn/winter 2013 collection she visualised a meeting of royal blood and Bauhaus modernism at a party. “I just imagined a situation where Hardy and people of the Bauhaus had a weekend away,” she notes. Inventing a brand new Bauhaus tartan to encapsulate this edgy-aristo crowd, she set sharp architectural all-check tailoring against fullgrain leather boots and long socks. “I loved

all these pictures of hunting weekends and parties.” Next stop: a screwball comedy called Weekend At Amies’? Maybe not.


“I’ve been inspired by the outdoors”

Jonathan Saunders takes a walk on the wild side

Colour is king at Jonathan Saunders, and for autumn/winter 2013, nature provided the cues, with “organic tones, inspired by the outdoors”. So think moss greens and barky fawns with (dare we say it, summery) sky blue. Luckily, fabrics won’t be covered in stray twigs but “tactile warm clothing [made of] mohair and wools,” utilising Mother Earth’s snugglier creations (phew).