Saturday, 16 June 2012

Inspired... Matthew Miller SS13

Having spent the last seven days quarantined from the world today's trip to the second day of London Collections: Men was particularly overwhelming. What a day. Every designer on the schedule delivered a heart quickening collection whilst the buzz and enthusiasm spread far and wide across the capital. As I bounced from show to presentation to installation with a proud smile omnipresent on my mug, knowing that there's a tasty final course to follow tomorrow, it just goes to show how much London menswear has grown over the life of this blog. Now, countless posts of this blog will be dedicated to the sights seen and to be seen but on my first day playing with the BFC's new platform I have to start with Matthew Miller.

Ever since this design talent first came to our attention with his standout RCA MA graduate collection which explored notions of masculinity with a somewhat jovial approach to the macabre, we have kept an ever interested on Matthew Miller's continued development and deserved rise to prominence. With his SS13 collection entitled Citations, the designer declares that "to create authenticity, beauty has to be destroyed." These strong words echo throughout and cannot be ignored. From inviting the wearer to be part of his process - with pre-folded t-shirts that have to be torn to be worn, elbow patches that are outlined by laser only to be revealed with a polite pull to tailoring adorned with the names of previous lineups in the various incarnations of Menswear Day. In this collection Miller explores the oft overlooked, the functional and the taken for granted. Citations is a strong take on utility with the use of surprising materials including fire blankets transformed in to bomber jackets and metallic silver insulation reimagined in accessories. It was a delight and proved to be a fitting reminder of the evolution of the industry. Before I share a few backstage shots with you I'd like to share the fruits of a recent visit to the designer's base in Hackney Wick. Below the designer himself introduces the collection and talks us through his mood board.

"This collection is more of a spiritual collection for me. On being asked about it, I'm finding myself choking up about it, it's much deeper than previous collections. It's just more philosophical. It's basically the fact that for me, London menswear has come full circle. It has been driven by designers and their ideas since 2005, before even. Now, an idea is a beautiful things and so many ideas have been destroyed almost to get it to where it is now and that's quite sad. The list of designers that have played their part is a long one, some of whom have fallen away and moved on to other things. With London Collections: Men, I wanted to help people remember them. One of my suits has all designer's names lasercut in to it, from MAN to NewGen to Fashion Forward. It's celebratory in a sense but it's also darker than that. To create authenticity a beautiful thing has to die and that's what I think this represents.  It's an epitaph almost. I wanted to contain this idea within tailoring because after all tailoring is a modern man's armour. I think people need to be reminded that London menswear hasn't just existed for one season, so much has gone in to it and so much more will be needed to keep pushing it forward. I've taken this idea of having to destroy something to make something beautiful and applied it to the t-shirts. The t-shirt has to be ripped from the foil packaging which will then become a part of it. This philosophy is also applied with the need to 'pull to tear' and functional transformation seen throughout the collection. Each item is an experience. I've really tried to think about the collection holistically, from catwalk right through to purchase. 

I wanted to look at everyday objects, materials and processes, things that tend to go unnoticed but are functional components of everyday life. For example, I am making all of the bags out of insulation which is this silver bubble wrap that is a necessity but no one appreciates it because it is hidden. Another is fire blankets which I'm using to making bombers. The fabric itself is made from glass and it looks like a luxe fabric. The collection is made out of things that don't get the attention they deserve, it's about the beauty in everyday and in ideas that aren't appreciated."
Miller talks us through Citations.

The studio wall was decorated in Miller's research. From technical diagrams to safety information, German instructions to August Sander's documentary photographs, the designer's mood board was a real celebration of the everyday...

A look at Miller's mood board and artefacts of the everyday.

ci·ta·tion   [sahy-tey-shuhn] noun
1. mention of a soldier or a unit in orders, usually for gallantry.
2. any award or commendation, as for outstanding service, hard work, or devotion to duty, especially a formal letter or statement recounting a person's achievements.

The term manifests itself in the suit laser cut with the records of all the lineups of MAN and NEWGEN MEN. During my studio visit I was treated to the first peek of this extraordinary piece of tailoring taking shape.

So many names. Some familiar, some almost forgotten.

"Whilst researching previous lineups I encountered names I've not heard in years or not even heard of at all. Names like Siv Stodal, Deryck Walker, Patrick Soderstam and Lotta. Every time that something dies out, another wave of designers come through and pushes it that bit further and we've seen that throughout the various incarnations of London menswear. There should be an appreciation of everyone that has taken part. In some ways it is like the front line, designers rushing out over in to no man's land to gain territory."
Miller on his laser cut Citations.

Having had this peek and early insight I've been desperate to take my seat at the show. Ever eager, I couldn't resist popping backstage shots to watch the finishing touches applied to the collection...

My look backstage. The final shot above shares the fruits of Miller's latest collaboration with Oliver Sweeney.

Throughout Citations Mathew Miller explores the minutiae of both his life and the world around him. It is a product of the past and our technology age. I'm not surprised that the designer himself struggles to talk about the collection. It is undoubtedly emotional. I cannot imagine a more fitting collection to mark the launch of London Collections: Men and it was a pleasure to be able to document its evolution.

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