In one of the highlights of LFW, the BFC teamed up with Topman to support rising menswear designers with the launch of NEWGEN MEN. As well as seeing the show I was fortunate enough to nip backstage to inspect the collections up close and take a few snaps. Prior to the show, Gordon Richardson described the exciting initiative as one that "rightfully positions menswear at the fore front of fashion providing a deserved platform for the very best menswear talent" and the show certainly didn't disappoint. The privilege of being the first designers to share the stage at the inaugural showcase deservedly went to James Long and Carolyn Massey. In many ways these two, very different designers perfectly encapsulate what’s great about London’s menswear design scene at the moment.
Andy Warhol's 1978 artwork 'Oxidisation' was the starting point for James Long's inspiration and from there the natural world took over. Techniques used to translate his starting point included bleaching, hand tie-dye and foiling. Leather had the appearance of being tarnished by the rain, whilst waxed cottons and and foiled drills seem to have corroded and the dye oxidised. This collection combined with Patrick Eervell's fabric experimentation makes me wish I paid attention in my Science classes. Who knew the natural world could help create such interesting effects?
Apparently Warhol used to urinate on copper, which made it look a bit like a camouflage pattern. Long's collections frequently have army references in them but none so blatant as in this collection. However, he twisted and fun with this aesthetic and made it appear war torn in places, then added a shininess to it and even tie die in others.
Fabrics with both a matt and sheen appearance are combined with foil to reflect light and to create layers of texture. The deceptively striking colour palette of black, metallic green, sun bleached peach and the 'polarvision style' washed out colours of oxidised metal and rust also played out in the accessories including leather lanyards, man clutches, satchels and weekender bags. It featured some of his most wearable and commercially desirable pieces to date. I grabbed James for a quick chat after the show and one of his remarks left a real impression on me. He reminded me that had it not been for NEWGEN MEN he would not have showed at this years LFW. What a crying shame that would have been!
Carolyn Massey has always been a firm Style Salvage favourite and it has been great to watch her develop the label over the last few seasons to become one of the most significant menswear designers around. Here, as mentioned in previous posts, she was inspired by the film 'Heroes of Telemark' (a film about heavy water sabotage in WW2 starring a rather tanned Kirk Douglas) and a recent visit to one of Kent's fishing villages Dungeness. Here her gentleman explores the great outdoors in suave protective gear. Lightweight trenches and bombers in technical fabrics with drawstring waists and utilitarian pocketing, pushed both fisherman and military wear in a modern direction and in one which most men would love to wear! The show standout waxed jacket, complete with detachable rucksack rocketed to the top of my Christmas list (I must have one!).
The braided belts, key rings and troddles on the arms of Massey's knitwear consultant, the lovely Lynn.
Accessories were granted greater prominence than in previous seasons and were styled extremely well. Massey has branched out in to a small bag collection, belts, key rings and troddles (traditionally used by the German army) and was inspired by the craft of Kumihimo, to create cotton ropes and braids. Having already had a sneak preview of the collection back in July I was a little shocked at how much the collection surprised me and left me in awe. The pieces came together perfectly to offer protection and function whatever the weather whilst colour, including mustard yellow and rich blues, was splashed throughout to create a collection to truly covet.
Lodger provided the shoes for Massey's show. I want, nay need a pair of brown brogues like these.
On the announcement of the LFW schedule, Sarah Mower remarked that "the stream of talent in menswear that has been coming out of London has turned into a torrent. The arrival of NEWGEN MEN puts in place a support system to nurture this spontaneous outpouring of creativity for the future.” These are undoubtedly exciting times for menswear here in London and as the first recipients of the award, James Long and Carolyn Massey have successfully showcased how different menswear can be. The menswear design floodgates are open, here is to the next surge of talent!