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Aisling Kelly gives us her view on the most creative looks at London Fashion Week Men’s 2017 so far.

 

As we begin 2017, we can’t help but reflect on the changes that took place over the last year. A selection of designers from 2017’s Autumn/Winter men’s collections have portrayed exactly how they feel – each representing similar themes of equality, freedom, escape, fear, battle, and urgency. What is arguably most interesting about these shows is the level of research, representation and meaning throughout – from styling and set design to makeup and hair.

Rarely is the ‘character’ design analysed in detail when reviewing fashion shows and collections – but it’s time to sit up and start taking notice.


Art School AW17

Design-duo Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt’s fashion week debut presents non-binary fashion for the non-binary body. The brand celebrate queer form using a cast of non-models (real LGBTQ+ icons) to display garments made specifically for each subject.

The designers were inspired by the celebrated early 20th century Ballet Russes and the Bauhaus art movement as well as Derek Jarman’s ‘Chroma’ – a philosophical written analysis on colour.

The makeup for the show, by Rebecca Wordingham, featured free-hand washes of translucent white with splotches of muted yellows, greens, blues and reds – taking clear influence from the performers of the Ballet Russes and the Bauhaus ‘Das Triadische Ballet’.

Some models were adorned with additional gems matching the glittering Swarovski crystals of the garments themselves. Performance artist and choreographer Theo Adams completed the creative collaboration by directing the models to dance expressively across the stage during the show. The brand has succeeded in creating a refreshing collection and consequent fashion show that feels more like a fearless performance art piece than the trend/sales-driven fashion world we’ve sadly become accustomed to – a welcome reminder of the creativity London fashion is synonymous with.

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Photos by Lucie Rox


Charles Jeffrey AW17

Club kid and LOVERBOY Charles Jeffrey creates a cosmic response to uncertain futures in his AW17 show.

The designer translates the political and social anxieties of today into creativity and life through a series of themes including pagan ritual, outerspace travel and celtic warrior fascination. The show began with a troupe of dancers writhing across the stage in a zombie-like trance with their bodies covered in clay, choreographed by Theo Adams Company.

Other models included a group of LOVERBOYs (a collective who attend Jeffrey’s LOVERBOY club night including NYC club kids Scotty Sussman and Harry Charlesworth) styled with rockabilly quiffs, Star Wars-inspired sculptural wigs, Vidal Sassoon shapes, 1980s punk spikes and mod-style bowl cuts (designed by hair stylist John Vial). Key makeup artist Lucy Bridge decorated the model’s faces and bodies with silver paint, theatrical contours, and Celtic-warrior-style tribal paint ‘masks’ – some of which featured what sponsor MAC Cosmetics call a ‘Celtic blue’ coloured handprint across chests. The show closed with a series of giant sculptural, foreboding deities created by set design Gary Card that give the feeling of an omen reflecting today’s turbulent society.

The result is an immaculate collection and fantastical performance that brings a vision (and warning) of the future.

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Photo by Morgan O’Donovan for Vogue


Christopher Shannon AW17

Christopher Shannon’s press release for his AW17 show reminded his audience that it was his “first collection created post-Brexit, post-Trump”. It is with that statement in mind we can analyse the visually-stunning ‘flag faces’ that accompanied the designer’s uniform/work wear-like garments.

The flags, applied by key makeup artist Andrew Gallimore, were designed by creative team James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks of Rottingdean Bazaar. Shannon describes the mask-like flags as inspired by the common practice of fans painting their faces at football matches – which he utilizes to “create a sense of unity, rather than division”.

The result is a clever comment on the current zeitgeist of global political and social instability – including frayed flags representing Gay Pride, the United Kingdom and Europe. Even the application itself of the flags, some showing visible undried glue on the skin, create a sense of rebellion and urgency. Comparisons can surely be drawn to two of Ireland’s well-known political activists, and comedy hip-hop duo, the Rubberbandits, who are recognised by the plastic bag-masks they use to conceal their identities on stage and in interviews where they frequently explore themes of political and social issues affecting Irish youth.

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Photos by Lucie Rox for Dazed


Matthew Miller AW17

Miller’s AW17 collection references ‘fear itself’ and modern day images of fear in popular press, with makeup by Michelle Webb. At first sight of the models, it’s easy to mistake the clean red lines protruding from noses as accidental nose bleeds on the runway. As more models appear with the sharp lines of red bleeding from eyes we realise the bold red colour, against the all-black garment collection, is both symbolic and scary – a statement of fear and war. The designer’s pre-show preview displayed a number of research and reference mood boards including masks of both tribal, ritual and functional purposes. The designer took influence from the Wayo, Saule, Biombo, Punu, Bwa, Mumuye, Pende, Dogon, Senufo, Dan and Songye tribes as well as a women’s secret ‘Sande’ society.

Different masks included on the mood-board represent diverse meanings, such as individual spirits during masquerade performance as well as inherent magical power. These masks of natural materials such as wood, feathers and fur contrast the opposing research boards of man-made aviator and plastic hockey masks. An aviators face mask is used for free breathing regardless of wind pressure, while the plastic hockey mask is used as a method of protection from rivals as well as creating an element of disassociation and fear. The collection is a clear comment on the current deceptive political landscape – a war between political power and the tribes of civilians willing to fight – and it succeeds in providing a protective uniform for next season’s ‘unknown’.

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Photo by Adam Katz Sinding of Le21eme

Words: Aisling Kelly 
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