Honestly, it feels a little surreal to be walking around in mid-January in gym shorts while much of the U.S. is experiencing cold so brutal that people in the Midwest are beginning to think the Earth’s poles have shifted. England isn’t faring much better as waves of torrential rain continue to batter dear old Blighty but, in the British tradition of maintaining a stiff upper lip, the men’s fall fashion presentations now known as London Collections: Men went off pretty much without a hitch over the last few days.
I saw it written somewhere that Selfridges’ creative director Alannah Weston had joined the committee of this rapidly growing fashion event, which started me reminiscing back to my Oxford days when Alannah and I played on the polo team together.
In fact, two of the four players on the Oxford side were female that year and we beat the all-male Cambridge team at the Varsity Match by the largest margin in its history, which goes to show that girls can kick ass at polo. We didn’t have things like the internet back then so I had no way of knowing that her father was a multi-billionaire even after lunching at their country house with the full kitchen staff in Windsor Great Park. She told me she planned to go to Paris to work for Vogue when she’d finished her studies and that seemed an odd choice for an Oxbridge grad but it looks like it worked out pretty well for her.
So, anyway, the collections kicked off Monday with Topman Design and a somber collection mostly of black and gray that highlighted oversized outerwear reminiscent of Ferragamo’s successful coats of last year. The melancholy Northern dockyards inspiration included skinny suits and shiny PVC for lads’ nights out on the town, which looked pretty cool on the runway but, after my one experience with Topman, I’ll wait to see how it comes out in production.
Tuesday started out with girly weirdness at J.W. Anderson where platforms, peplums and pedal pushers were the order of the day. Once the ruffle-trimmed teal leather jacket came out, I started praying that I never see anyone wearing this stuff on the street lest my pretty decent record of public behavior be tarnished. As though the organizers had foreseen this crisis, they scheduled a pretty smashing Hackett London to follow show soon after. Tailored suiting in an array of old-timey plaids played off against jewel toned moleskin in plum or claret with pops of bright color and a super slim Sixties vibe that I really liked.
The oddness typical of Alexander McQueen was toned down this season with a lean, dark Punk aesthetic that worked better than the extremes of the last two seasons. The tartan trend continued here and the kilts over pants were the most convincing argument I’ve yet seen for men wearing skirts. Finally, Casely-Hayford freshened their take on British tailoring by layering traditional pieces and adding bold horizontal strips that gave a fresh graphic jolt even if the Grunge-inspired looks were, well, less inspired.
On Wednesday, Paul Smith’s presentation played to his strengths of exaggerated tartans, and big florals on tailored pieces mixed with chambray or denim shirts all while staying on trend and Pringle of Scotland stayed true to their argyle, though an emerging silhouette of high turtleneck and long jacket over skinny pants and clunky shoes could be spotted. Tom Ford showed a more casual weekend collection for fall in mostly black and ivory, even adding the tennis shoes that he once swore he would never do. The leather was polished by hand for three days for these shoes, though, so that makes it totally okay.
London’s last and biggest show was Burberry Prorsum late Wednesday. Skinny pants once again appeared but now with pleats under big, billowy printed silk shirts and coats and trenches of the lightest weight. I’m not sure I’m down with the Hermes-like scarves tied around the shoulders or the massive kilim-covered weekend bags but the show had moments in a yummy chocolate shearling and a few great prints.
It’s too early too tell for certain but I predict that next fall may be about tartans of all scales and colors, long layers, bold horizontal stripes and a predominant silhouette that’s big on top and skinny on the bottom. Let’s see if Milan goes and fucks it all up for us, shall we?