OPINION There is a refreshing certainty about London Fashion Week Men's this season. British designers are still collectively pushing the fashion envelope, embracing newness like no other fashion week, challenging us about perceptions of fashion as an art form and what it means to be masculine in 2017. When the world around us holds so much uncertainty, England in particular, seeing men take to the catwalk in clothing you and I might never dare consider to wear, is indeed refreshing and vital.
Vital, because creativity should never be censored. It should flow languorously and unhindered with enough current to take us somewhere we haven't been, without tidal waves washing all the interesting stuff away.
I loved Edward Crutchley's show on day one of LFWM, a mesmerising presentation full of historical references, challenging silhouettes and fine drapery. It may only be Crutchley's third outing at London Fashion Week Men, but he embodies the spirit of what fashion week is all about, and that is to showcase fertile talent for what it is. And if his looks of men in bandaged corsets and languid dresses challenges our preconceptions, that is only a good thing. Knowing he has bonafide credentials including working under Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton and with Claire Waight Keller at Pringle, means there is more than meets the eye.
London is precisely the platform where designers can still present their visions authentically without the constraints of the 'real world.' The real wold being the business of fashion. Where in Paris and Milan every runway look must meet a marketing target, if not a commercial one; where CEO's and merchandisers dictate to designers what sells, so that collections get diluted to point of pleasing an over-crowded retail market.
The handful of stockists that may dare to pick up a budding designer at LFWM are choosing collections as they would an artwork with niche appeal. The end goal of a collection is not always to be a commercial success. It is certainly not something every young designer should be persuaded to aspire to: not at the expense of business acumen, but at the expense of forgetting fashion is also art.
In London, thankfully, newness comes not only from young graduates fresh out of design school. Similarly refreshing was the Topman Design show on Friday. Here we have a high street chain who doesn't shy of directional fashion but who fully embraces it. Where else in the world would you see men made up with eye glitter and glam make-up and wet, coloured hair take to the catwalk? Certainly not in New York, where comparable major high street labels like J Crew, Abercrombie and Club Monaco illicit as much fashion excitement as a dormant volcano.
On show were metallic and cropped jackets that skimmed the waist and reminded me of the 70s. A plethora of references that could easily be traced back to David Bowie, another genius of British soil. Bowie, like London Fashion Week, could only come from one this special place.
During the month of June FashionUnited will focus on the menswear catwalk season. For all reads, click here.
Photo credit: Edward Crutchley, Topman Design, source: London Fashion Week, copyright catwalking.com
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