The Wylde Edit: London Men's Fashion Week
Words by Luke Singleton and Sarah Roberts
Matthew Miller’s A/W ’17 show was as much about pilgrimages and journeys as it was a reflection on disenfranchisement; a fashion love-letter to urban tribes and clans that is undercut by a prevailing sense of loneliness and isolation. A pious spoken word soundtrack marked a heavy atmosphere, almost a calling-to-arms, where models emerged from the shadows like a battalion. The military theme continued through deconstructed backpacks, parachute straps cascading from hoods, zips and pockets, and a few army-green accoutrements to boot. These pieces provided some winsome reprieve for a collection that felt a little too stoic at times, the same way that Miller’s wonderful hand-painted Caravaggio coat did this season, but without the same stellar impact. A signature leather aviator jacket in black shearling felt like a wise choice and was nicely made. At the end, the model brigade appeared for their final roll call: to Duran Duran’s Ordinary World, giant flags paraded in a show of unity. If in Miller’s fashion fraternity there was no prevailing authority, then an affinity nevertheless was sufficiently felt.
Her A/W ’17 show was Vivienne Westwood’s first on the men’s schedule. The collection combined Westwood’s penchant for classical tailoring with the spirit of her early ‘Pirates’ and ‘Buffalo’ collections. Think soft gold and pinstripe double-breasted suits clashing with bold woven patchwork and a reoccurring pattern of crowded faces. A unisex collection with a focus on menswear, the combining of both sexes felt overburdened at times. Rather than revitalizing, the cross-dressing crossing between both sexes lacked a thematic thread. However, there was a palpable focus on geometry, as models donned geometric makeup and casualwear emblazoned with geometric shapes. Westwood paid homage to her collection in a childlike geometric crown, and combined with its bold colours and harks back to Westwood’s younger years, the show oozed plenty of appeal to the child within.
After winning British Menswear Designer of the Year at the Fashion Awards in December, there was eager anticipation for Craig Green’s A/W '17 show. Inspired by the plight of fishermen, who would often leave home for several years without contact with their families, Green created an eerie sense of isolation. Reflected in the haunting soundtrack, the sou’wester hats, and quilting with life vest-like attachments, every detail transported the audience to stark and distant waters. The aquatic-inspired garments, with mono-coloured, padded jackets and hooded sailor smocks paired with wide trouser silhouettes, somehow managed not to feel too heavy. Never one to delve too deeply into his own work, Green described his jackets and pants made from strips of woven Arabic patterns as ‘English pub carpet meet Aladdin’, a modest interpretation of his own craftsmanship.
J W Anderson
Anderson described the idea for his explosive A/W 17 show as ‘getting lost in the womb of fashion.’ Taking place in a labyrinth within a military building near King’s Cross, and featuring bright crotchet knits, robe-like capes and landscape prints, there was a lot within the womb for the audience to immerse themselves in. Anderson took inspiration from British painters David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield, which was reflected in the vibrant colour palette, landscape images and stained-glass window motifs. Both a sense of youthfulness and patriotism resounded throughout the collection, with Anderson referring to his models as his ‘little princes’. The maternal womb cocooned its audience within a whimsical world, where sleeves trailed the floor and bright, cosy knits added colour and excitement to an otherwise bleak Sunday morning.
The references to ceremonial African dress were less obvious in Wales Bonner’s A/W ‘17 show than in previous collections. The speakers borrowed from Notting Hill Carnival transported her audience a little closer to home, back to the streets of West London. Wales Bonner’s inspiration for the collection was street preachers, and the power they yield from their surroundings. This broad visual reference provoked thoughts of Medieval Friars, through to Jehovah’s Witnesses, and local Jamaican boys in Ladbroke Grove in the 1970s. The outcome was a blend of unisex pieces, jersey tracksuits, unironed shirts and cropped duffel coats. Many of her signatures were still prevalent; her carefully tailored velvet suits and pristine white tailoring. This collection, however, felt more widely influenced than her others, and the intricate detail with which Wales Bonner crafts her imaginative clothing continued to build quiet momentum.