Thursday 28 January 2016

London Designers Paris AW16: The Business of Art and Fashion

London club style: designer Charles Jeffrey with his new collection in Paris. Portrait by Elli Ioannou. Cover picture in Paris of models wearing different British designers including Rory Parnell-Mooney & Charles Jeffrey. Photo by Darren Gerrish, British Fashion Council. 
Art was the key inspiration in Paris this season for Autumn/Winter 2016 during men's fashion week. Emerging designers showing at the London Showrooms event, presented avant-garde and raw collections using collage, photo montage and Pop Art, reports Elli Ioannou from the French capital.

The Paris showrooms. Elli Ioannou Photomedia
WALKING into the London Showrooms AW16 in Paris feels more like walking into Andy Warhol's studio, with the designers' collections incorporating collage, photographs printed on fabric and Pop Art. Charles Jeffrey, Alex Mullins and Rory Parnell-Mooney are star graduates of Central St Martins College of Arts and Design in London. All three designers' work is edgy combined with a fine attention to detail and tailoring. The designers were taught by the late Louise Wilson, whose former students included Alexander McQueen and Jonathan Saunders. The designers' work at the
Alex Mullins AW16 London by Shawn James Cox BFC
London Showroom offers a great source of inspiration and fresh talent to Paris Fashion Week. Showing their collections to potential buyers in the French city they receive feedback from experts who understand what their clients are looking for. In London, its all about promoting the brand, with live fashion shows that are more like art installations. Paris is where the designers get a taste of reality regarding who their customers are, how the clothes will fit and if there is room for improvement to make their creations wearable and ultimately saleable.

The designer in Paris. Elli Ioannou Photomedia
Charles Jeffrey's new collection was ordered first by a Japanese boutique and he also had a visit from Comme Des Garcons' Rei Kawakubo. The designer says Vivienne Westwood and Rei Kawakubo are his main heroines. “My collection was actually born out of a club I ran to support my Masters and I was particularly influenced by friends and characters who came to the club,” says Jeffrey. "Not just what they looked like but how they behaved even down to their body language such as twitching hand gestures and mismatched coat buttons."
Charles Jeffrey AW16 London. Photo Dan Sims BFC
The designer has translated these into the details of his clothes. The influence of club and street culture is one of the recurring themes in London designers' work and this kind of innovation appears to be in their DNA. During his internship at Christian Dior, Jeffery could also see the high level of craftsmanship that is possible in haute couture and how this could be incorporated into his own collections.

Parnell-Mooney:Elli Ioannou Photomedia
Rory Parnell-Mooney says his AW16 collection was inspired by painter Jan Van Duren, who also influenced the direction of early Balenciaga collections with his large scale paintings of monks and nuns. Memories of Rory’s teenage self with lots of angst along with music from that time makes the collection quite personal. The designer got his break by being one of three designers selected to show at London Men’s fashion week for Topshop's TopMan sponsored show Fashion East. (Charles Jeffrey was also part of the show).

“Music and art are my main inspirations, this season I’m obsessed with Brian Molko from Placebo, known for promoting androgynous female aesthetics in the 90s," he says.
Rory Parnell-Mooney AW16. Photo Dan Sims
“Lulu from Topshop for the way they nurture emerging designers via Fashion East and the late Louise Wilson who remains a massive influence even now.” Balenciaga's early work and Yohji Yamamoto are key influences for Parnell-Mooney too. The designer is more focused on style rather than trends and the process of making the clothes. “Craft is important, the way things are hand made makes a difference,” Parnell-Mooney says. Hand-made work is more interesting and creative and is one of the reasons why young London designers are desirable.”

Alex Mullins:Elli Ioannou Photomedia
Alex Mullins completed his BA in fashion at Central St Martins, followed by an MA at the Royal College of Art and this is especially evident in his collection. His AW16 range resembles wearable art: photomontage with collage but with the finish of an atelier. “Denims are classically finished and the arty, creative pieces have digitally printed photos onto calico, then I collage them back together,” says Mullins. Creating and producing the work in house ‘atelier’ style is part of the brand's ethos of custom-made design. Mullin's mother taught him how to cut his first jacket as a twelve year old, as a pattern maker and fashion lecturer herself. “Coming from a creative family I was lucky to be able to discuss ideas and art references," Mullins says.
Alex Mullins AW16 London. Photo Shawn James Cox BFC

"I didn’t realise this was unique growing up in a creative environment and having that support until I was at university.” Inspiration for the current AW16 collection stems from the everyday and mundane, such as the time spent waiting for a train or a bus. “Boredom is necessary to activate your imagination and encourages movement in yourself in a provocative way,” he says.
Androgyny and custom-made clothing is the direction that all three designers say are the future trends in men’s fashion and they all produce their collections locally in the UK, keeping the tradition of the atelier alive. Louise Wilson had a great impact and influence on all three designers and her teaching has left an indelible mark on them all.

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