"Fashion East Installations give the newest of the new in London menswear the chance to prove their worth in a group show of delicious controlled anarchy," proclaims Charlie Porter in the recent press release for autumn/winter 2013. Ever since they were introduced to the London fashion week schedule back in 2009, I've excitedly bounced from room to room inside its various incarnations uncovering the beautiful alongside the wonderful and even the unusual at every opportunity. The platform provides discovery at every turn for us whilst offering invaluable exposure for the designers themselves and often acts as a springboard for them. Nothing quite represents the diversity of London menswear design talent quite like the Fashion East Menswear Installations. Returning to the impressive and ornate Georgian townhouse in the heart of St. James’s alongside Meadham Kirchhoff, Bobby Abley, Joseph Turvey, Nasir Mazhar and Maarten van der Horst, Kit Neale will once again be a noisy neighbour to Buckingham Palace for the day.
Ever since I first stepped in to Kit Neale's dazzlingly printed world, a cultural kaleidoscope that reimagined suburban and multicultural Britain, I've been eager to return. Despite being just over two weeks away from London Collections: Men, I couldn't resist popping by his new showroom cross studio located just off Shoreditch High Street for a sneak peek at how the new season is taking shape. Moving on from his Dad's allotment and the ever eccentric great British seaside, the emerging sartorial chronicler of our age looks to his design heroes and ends up sozzled in his local. Reviving him with the rustling of a bag of pork scratchings, Kit Neale talks us through his mood board and allows us to take a sip from his heady cocktail of influences...
"The real starting point was looking at three of my design heroes of Michael Clark, Ray Petri and Ernő Goldfinger. I'm always researching them. I'm obsessed. Ray Petri's 'Buffalo' book has pride of place in the studio, it's our bible and I always look through it and I know many other labels look to it as well. I'm really drawn to those Buffalo days and often look through my old issues of The Face and Arena Homme Plus. I think Petri, Goldfinder and Clark all have a level of influence over or appear in some way in every season but I wanted to delve a little deeper and fuse all three in to this collection but it wasn't possible to look at all three due to this being such a short season so I chose to focus on Clark. It's been a bit tight this season and this shows in the fact that the prints have just come back, the Friday before Christmas but I'm really pleased with them.
There's a film that Michael Clarke did with Leigh Bowery called Hail The New Puritan. It's a fake documentary, a mix of narrative, performance and fantasy. If you've not seen it, you really should watch it on youtube. The vivid colours of the film really inspired the prints for this season. There's one particular scene where they are in a typical British, slightly run down pub and the contrast and clash with these colourful characters is so intriguing. It led me to think about the role of the pub in society, they're a place where all types congregate and it also directed me to all of the pop references. I looked at so many names, signs and details of pubs but in the end we concentrated on The White Polar Bear and The Queen's Head. The prints combine the pub detailing with the vivid colours of the film and the movements of Michael's Clark's dance."
A few snapshots peering in to Kit Neale's mind.
Much like looking at Martin Parr's photography which can at first appear exaggerated, Kit Neale's plentiful prints fuse the familiar with the strange, the mundane with the extraordinary. Entering his presentation space last season I was instantly transported back home to the sandy beach of Margate and I'm looking forward to going off on a jaunt to one of the designer's locals to share a pint with his design heroes. What's your poison?