Back to work after the Christmas break and straight into London Collections: Men the same week is now the norm for us fashion types, but it doesn’t make it any easier. We require a good old shake to wake us out of our turkey-induced daze and make us fail in our attempts of a January detox. Mikael Jack, Danny Judge and Daniel Challis report from LCM on the AW16 shows.

The AW16 season kicked off as usual with Topman Design who provided us with that shake. Never ones to play it safe or bore, TMD took eclectic to new extremes, with influences as far spaced as skaters, grunge and Eighties club kids. Patterns, fabrics and colours also clashed on velvets, metallic, suits, sportswear, denim, coats and flight jackets. For the brave, but certainly the few.

Barbour were not expected to break the ground, nor would we want them to, but their collection went back to their roots and ended up with a modern take on their history. A sweater emblazoned with ‘Durham’ gave a preppy twist to their North East England reference, and the casting and styling made the collection incredibly right for the young man of today, which is always nice to see from a company with so many years behind them.

Nasir Mazhar took a step back from their usually logo-heavy offering. The all-black everything collection was Mazhar’s way of toning things down; laced-up, padded and ready-for-battle sportswear was his way of delighting his existing customers with what they want, but unlikely to excite new ones.

Universal Works brought the fun of the fair to their presentation set with colourful neon signs, an AstroTurf floor and the remains of the coconut shy scattered around. The looks were layered and comfortable in a dark palette, contrasting against the surroundings.

1205 continued their run of beautiful venues, bringing weatherproof looks in quilted jackets and tops, natural boiled wools and light shearling, which were styled with runners to give a relaxed, sporty workwear feel. Olive and camel complemented the navy and grey.

Private White VC’s packed presentation in the basement of their Duke Street store showed – on models placed around on blocks like living mannequins – the brand’s knack for the best British-made garments you can get your hands on, with some highlights including Scottish cashmere coats and shearling over Savile Row-quality tailoring.

Alex Mullins‘ boys could have walked in from the displeasing weather outside the show venue – they were soaked. Denim was constructed into jeans and jackets that twisted and fastened in a style reminiscent of those Noughties Levi’s, while coats swamped over the wet models in vibrant photographic prints and simple knitwear that made up the collection.

CMMN SWDN went with an era and stuck to it: Seventies styles in Seventies colours in a Seventies room. Exquisite outwearwear, high waists, slim legs, chunky accessories and sporty tops had us hoping that the Seventies obsession has another season to go.

DAY TWO

Inspired by his Eighties Edinburgh nights at roller discos, E. Tautz‘s Patrick Grant darkened spring’s pastels to update his signature voluminous styles in dark greys and navy with smudge spots. No sign of skates, but the pulled-in waists under big classic trench overcoats and knitted cardigans spoke of the St. Michael and Gabicci that he cited as his inspiration. Eighties schoolboys of the coolest kind had naughty smirks as they sauntered down the runway letting you know they were up to no good.

Agi & Sam, after what was arguably the most stand-out show of LCM’s SS16 shows, had only their own large shoes to fill, and that they did. There was a dreaminess to it, both the collection and the models’ strides, which were enchanting more than sleepy and carried on from last season’s theme. Womenswear punctuated the men’s with both sexes in extra-long sleeved knits, adding softness to the utilitarian leather and khaki. Fine jersey and wool, pointlessly-placed pockets, straps and a bag that doubled as a protection vest all combined in an unlikely collection – one that they said was more drawn from what the design duo would wear themselves – that was again the show may have won LCM.

Bertholt‘s heavily masculine presentation replete with the signature style, form, and proportion that made it a standout last season. With striking displays of jackets and flowing coats, a collection of strong black clothes juxtaposed with a bold yellow overcoat created a powerful contrast that enticed the eye. Designer, Raimund Berthold once again excelled, distinctly marking a year since he first presented a collection at LCM for AW15.

Tiger of Sweden occupied their waiting guests with a monochrome montage of birds in flight sweeping across a colossal LED screen. Like the start of a Scandi-drama, this tone-setting display morphed into a dramatic floral distortion as Magnus Carlson’s melancholic live vocals rang up and the models walked out. An astute ‘celebration of Swedishness’ the collection carried classic sartorial staples inspired by the dramatic landscape of Sweden’s Dalarna province. Stand-out kaleidoscopic prints were mirrored in embroidered patches, hand-painted leather jackets and shearling ‘teddy bear bombers’ made way for concise tailoring and narrow cuts for which the brand is known. A text-emblazoned knit garnered particular attention from the crowd as well as the salmon velour suit that closed the show.

YMC’s show had its own live soundtrack provided by Sheffield band Parallelogram, who lent the collection its name. It was a racket for most that made the whole process somewhat uncomfortable and distracted from the looks that harked on its psychedelic / folk inspiration. Fringed capes, oversized knits, shearling jackets and vintage denim all in a dark autumnal palette – every look on a long-haired boy – was ready to sell to YMC’s loving audience; there was nothing bad here, just nothing new.

Oliver Spencer took international inspiration – from both London and Africa – presenting a collection of highly-wearable outfits, which is exactly what can be expected of the designer every season, as can the casting of men over boys. The show featured his signature tailoring, a highlight suede patchwork jacket, and enough beautifully-printed and woven-tees to move things forward and still please his loyal fans.

Soulland embraced Saturday’s downpours in what was one of LCM’s most memorable presentations. The theme was the co-existence and power balance between industry and nature. Outdoors in the centre of Bloomsbury Square, it was made more poignant by the umbrellas carried by the models – even fashion must bow to nature’s whims. Strong coats and jackets with striking colours, the weather helped to demonstrate their qualities – waterproof, functional, beautiful.

Maharishi ended day two in what was a strong contender for the most exciting show of the day, the energetic show and models buoying the flagging guests who were ready for bed or bar. More wearable than previous seasons, but retaining their usual strong political agenda – a thematic war upon the mainstream, devoting the show to ‘exposing the social fabric’ by exploring sub-cultures – the label’s heavy focus upon a bold colour palette of reds, black and khaki showed a brave brand not afraid to explore.

 

DAY THREE

Belstaff kicked off Sunday, providing the bleary-eyed show-goers with bloody marys and – in a Southwark railway arch – a theme of wintry exploration. In what was the most impressive space we had seen this LCM: snow, ice, ski bikes and rocks under bright white light were the Belstaff men’s setting. Classic styles were updated in shearlings; knitwear was a highlight in greys, whites and black; and scarves, which go back to their motorcycling roots. “We were inspired by the pioneers of endurance riding who threaded their bikes through some of the most inhospitable conditions for the sheer challenge of the journey,” explained menswear designer, Frederik Dyer, in the show notes. Well, we were south of the river.

James Long’s grungey SS16 show ensured a full house, where Tom Daley sat front row alongside his fiancé and David Gandy. It was all about ‘Local Heroes’ who inspire him and his work, creating an diverse wardrobe of the pieces everyone wears: tracksuits and sweatshirts; waterproof jackets; washed and painted or dyed denim. The sequined and velvet tops, or multi-coloured striped Louboutin riding boots made especially for the show might not be for everyone, but were the highlight for others. It was a departure that showed his brand is definitely moving on from its knitwear comfort zone, but sometimes a tuxedo jacket and a jogging pant should be kept apart. Always, actually.

Baartmans & Siegel referenced the Seventies, as so many others continue to do, in a dark and camel palette. Jackets and coats were layered up on the same looks, leopard-print fur lining a nylon bomber and a fox lapel on a camel wool trench being highlights. Embroidered cockerels echoed the cockfighting clubs of the design pair’s inspiration, in what was a big departure from spring’s white, western collection, and probably their best yet.

Christopher Raeburn’s utility expertise continued in this show, with patchwork wool, oversized knitwear, which reminded of us of when Giles Deacon tested the limits of how chunky a scarf could be, and lighter quilted nylon and silk bombers providing the textures to the navy, khaki, white and burgundy palette. Prints were camo, rubber tape or cheetahs, with denim below the waist throughout. Quite what the massive fabric-feather coat was that Darwin Gray closed the show in, we don’t know, but we kind of loved it. Raeburn just knows.

KTZ stepped up to keeping guests entertained on the last show of day three with a semi-apocalyptic, sports-fuelled array of looks that looked to have walked straight from the streets of the US to their London runway. With a collection replete with KTZ’s signatures style of heavily-patterned streetwear, the brand’s Marjon Pejoski, was unafraid to pick a theme and run with it – American collegiate baseball with elements of motor racing as logos and engine motifs thrown in. Dressed in menacing bats and headguards, bombers, blazers and western jackets with baseball stitching, the collection managed to keep KTZ’s well-rehearsed intimidation, but turned down just a notch.

DAY FOUR

John Smedley took their love of art to their product on Monday’s early start. Artist Doris.A.Day created three bespoke hand-painted pieces of knitwear, while another was created live on a stage, surrounded by the presentation models. A tonal palette of red, blue and smoky greys in the famous fine merino garments were reminiscent of oily brush strokes and abstract lines echo the work of the pivotal artists like Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron.

Xander Zhou had the task of the first show of the morning, and wanted to deliver an idea of diversity, freedom, fluidity and imperfection. Seventies glam rock met Eighties patchwork leather and Nineties grunge; there was no theme here. Pageboy jackets, met joggers and silver leather. Sequin zippers sat under corduroy suits, or military coats. It was chaos, but it somehow worked. Free to be whoever they wanted, the en masse Saint Laurent-style finale was played out by Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ – just a few hours after the news broke of the musician’s untimely passing – and it all made sense.

Katie Eary provided another poignant moment with her show, on the morning David Bowie’s death dominated headlines, which was inspired by ‘The Sacred Triangle’ – a documentary about the Bowie’s creative relationship with Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. Starting heavily with laced-up glam rock silver leather and black shearling, through goldfish prints and black PVC, to light-striped or paisley-patterned silk loungewear and crushed velvet, all featuring Eary’s quirky graphic additions, there was a lot to love.

Liam Hodges went boy racer (he probably was one, as most of us were) for AW16. GO FASTER (60 F45T3R) in private number plate-style was emblazoned on boiler suits, knitwear, hoodies, tracksuits and caps, in white, grey and blues. Burgundy was less logoed, and the white and black pieces to the latter half of the show were simple, utility staples that will satisfy those who don’t quite have the 84115 to wear the yellow, black and white number plate looks.

Thom Sweeney‘s sartorial might was shown in its home – the designer’s masculine lair of a Mayfair store – in a collection of extremely wearable and expertly cut suits, coats and knitwear for a man who is just a little bit cooler than Savile Row, but wants the same quality. Johannes Huebl and Jamie Redknapp browsing the collection showed exactly who this customer is in perfect style.

Bobby Abley gave us Rio Carnival, which isn’t what you would expect from a winter show, but Bobby Abley is not a regular designer. More Disney characters – this time Donald – football shirts and boots, Brazilian flags, swimwear, any reference to Rio that could be made as well as the feathered adornments you would find at the Carnival. And then, Christina Aguilera: an I heart Xtina cropped sweater preceded a full-drag version of the singer in her Dirrty video. It was weird. It was brilliant. No one knows why, or cares.

Beat that, Milano.