WORDS Niall Underwood
To begin my reportage of the London Collections from ‘Day One’ would be dishonest, as the biannual menswear fiesta kicked off on what we shall call ‘Day Zero’ with the FOXES Magazine launch party. Thursday night saw a selection of London’s messy haired, frock-coated characters dancing away in the cellar of an exclusive Mayfair club to the thrashing sounds of SAP and Telegram. Lots of gin was consumed, much of it by myself, and a good time was had by all.
Our first show of LC:M, although viewed through dark glasses and the haze of a headache, is that of Xander Zhou. Zhou is the first of China’s designers to show seasonally during LC:M and he provided an excellent first show of the season. Placed upon each seat is a pale pink sheet of paper showing a list of words and phrases. The collection’s title, ‘GROWN-UPS’, tops the list and is immediately followed by ‘SEX’, ‘AROUSAL’ and ‘STIMULATE’. The show consisted an expertly cast throng of beautifully dishevelled boys, each look screaming sex appeal but in a voice that is without a hint of aggression. A white latex trench coat is styled open to reveal just a pair of striped boxer shorts and tatty skate shoes. High-heeled platforms are worn with nought but an oversized hoodie. Striped bandanas are tied around necks and limbs. The image is sexy, modern and tastefully constructed.
As the day goes on, Phoebe English also toys with traditional visions of masculinity by presenting her SS17 menswear collection on a eight boys who sat quietly against a linen backdrop, each hand stitching his own embroidery sample. Hooded smocks and shirt dresses made from natural fibres form a gentle side-step from English’s more established womenswear line. The MAN show follows, this season including two new designers and one returning talent. As guests find there seats, Per Götesson’s DIY presentation stands centre-stage on the catwalk. The raw edges, denim and abstract proportions provide an delicious bread basket at the start of one’s meal. Feng Cheng Wang’s collection formed the unmemorable starter, perhaps ordered by a diner who over-indulged on bread and is confident in their choice of main course. After Wang gives her wave, the atmosphere in the space changes in an instant. The runway, now scattered with flowers, played host to Charles Jeffery’s LOVERBOY for the second time this year. The eery, etherial show formed a graceful leap into the future of London’s most talked-about designer. Chain mail and plasticine accompany Swarovski crystals and an excess of Merino wool to create what Jeffrey describes as ‘the 1650s, via the 1950s, in 2016’s East London’. The desert menu is waved away, the bill ordered.
Finally, I stop by House of Holland’s presentation without anticipating that I would be thrown hips-first into a free-rave. To enter the presentation space, one had to walk through a cube of enormous LED screens showing a fashion film which resembled an LSD trip of the best possible kind. Boys, adorned in the most colourful of garments, danced all around me and left me in no doubt of what ‘vibe’ is to follow, Embroidered double denim, Warhol-esque prints of Heinz Baked Beans, leather caps and yellow ‘smileys’ pepper Holland’s SS17 collection, creating an effect that is enjoyable without being groundbreaking. I leave the presentation after glancing at each look, pausing to enjoy the film installation one more time before going home to nurse my ever-lingering hangover.
Xander Zhou SS17 - All Looks // Photography Helle Moos
Styling: Anna Pesonen @ ATOMO Management
Casting: Madeleine Østlie / AAMO Casting @ CLM
Hair: Gary Gill @ team for Wella Professional using EIMI
Makeup: Ciara O’Shea @ LGA Management
Music: Finn MacTaggart