PHOTOGRAPHY Phoebe Fox
WORDS Niall Underwood
The third and penultimate day of London Collections: Men begins with news of a shooting in an Orlando nightclub. The bulletin first appears as I sit in the car, on my way to the first show. At this stage, the casualties are unknown and tweets from inside the nightclub report a hostage situation. At the British Fashion Council showspace, the atmosphere feels strange. Perhaps it lacks something or perhaps it carries an extra weight - either way, something has changed.
The first show of the day is Parsons graduate Ximonlee, presented by GQ China. Winner of Parsons Best Menswear Designer Award 2014 and the H&M Award 2015, Ximonlee makes himself comfortable in the LC:M schedule with an autobiographical collection named ‘HARD’ that narrates ‘a growing boy’s journey’. Inspired by the idea of concealing and revealing the body, ‘HARD’ shows skin where it is least expected. A wool tabard leaves the back bare, almost-clear latex shorts leave just enough to the imagination. The fabrics are stiff and unyielding, the collection looks distinctly uncomfortable, yet highly wearable. Previous collections from Ximonlee include SS16’s ‘Children of Leningradsky’, which tells the story of the designer’s childhood spent in a Chinese/Russian border town. The language of this maker’s work is clear, I’m looking forward to the next chapter.
News reports from Orlando propose a working death toll of twenty, with twice that many people being treated for injuries.
Our next show is that of Kokon To Zai, better known as KTZ. The event finds us in an underground club, just south of the River Thames. The collection, which apparently draws from Sci-Fi and celestial maps, is largely made up of 2009-esque harnesses and the monochrome prints that are described by KTZ’s press release as ‘iconic’. The very same literature explains that KTZ’s new season ‘looks to the future and oozes adventure’ - however, I see little that is adventurous about showing the same garments season after season. There is little else to be said. My third day of shows closes with knitwear brand Sibling, whose merged menswear/womenswear show finds us sipping ice teas by a Miami pool - or feeling as if we are, at least. The first model on the runway walks with a smile, wearing just a knitted towel wrapped around his waist which is promptly whipped off to reveal Sibling speedos. The colour palate is all-American red, white and blue. The mood is delightfully upbeat. Sibling’s ever-present edge comes from sequinned corsets, which flash from beneath the beachwear of boys and girls alike, reminding us of the discomfort one may feel despite the face they project.
As the day draws to a close, Floridian police confirm that fifty people have been killed in the attack, including the perpetrator. The massacre is the deadliest mass-shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst attack of any kind since 9/11. I couldn’t help but make links between Sibling’s message and the day’s events. The attack, decidedly motivated by homophobia due to the fact that it took place in an LGBTQ club, is a shocking reminder of the hatred that resides in ‘the land of the free’. The timing of this gunman’s action puts what we do into perspective; the slightly distracted feeling present throughout LC:M reflects our knowledge that fashion is only so important.