Tuesday 14 June 2016

Charles Jeffrey: New Loverboy Spring/Summer 2017 Collection

The flower strewn runway of Charles Jeffrey's Loverboy SS17 show and a dramatically blue-coated model with a spiky chain mail headpiece with Hell eblazoned at the neck. All photographs from the show by Chris Yates. Tap on pictures for full-screen slideshow
London Collections:Men's fashion week shows the most avant-garde menswear designers from around the world. The Man showcase, established for young designers in 2005, has launched many successful new brands in the British capital. One of the most iconoclastic new designers on this season's SS17 schedule is Charles Jeffrey, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento

 Charles Jeffrey by Meinke Klein
CHARLES Jeffrey's new Loverboy collection is a paean to his anarchic creative spirit. He deconstructs fine tailoring to form an androgynous, mystical show on a runway strewn with romantic flowers but offset by a fleshy film by long-term collaborator Gareth Wrighton, meant to symbolise birth and regeneration. The show had the designer's signature theatricality with haunting music along with the fragrant blooms scattered over the catwalk. Models strutted down the floral runway in New Look full-skirted and flounced coats, creating an eclectic mix of menswear motifs through different centuries, with the dandy as a key figure. Victorian double breasted jackets with nipped in waists and mutton-leg sleeves played with a sense of proportion and the androgyny was enhanced by the mix of male and female models.

Corsets and draped, wool track pants 
While the 25 year old Jeffrey was born in Scotland, London is his home and he graduated from the MA fashion course at Central St Martins in 2015. Jeffrey is an illustrator and an ingenious and fearlessly experimental designer. He launched his first collection at Fashion East’s presentations last year before his runway debut at the MAN showcase last January. This spring/summer 2017 season in London is Jeffrey’s second runway show as part of MAN. His take on menswear reflects his work as an illustrator and his club night Loverboy, held in VF Dalston, where he has a space to create his work and collaborates with artists, photographers and musicians. A cult nightlife and art space, VF Dalston provides a base for the label and inspiration from the people who visit the venue. This season he wanted to go beyond the party clubland motifs of his first AW16 show.

Complex yet fluid tailoring
The designer says he wanted the new collection to be rooted in real life and express a “consciously naïve attempt at something truly ascendant.” Jeffrey's aesthetic is a challenging mix of seemingly atonal elements and discplined tailoring along with a serious and more light-hearted looks. He experiments with accessories combining plasticine and wool jogging pants with Swarovski crystals and Savile Row fabrics. The overall effect, like Proust's Madeleine, engenders fleeting thoughts of centuries past in the cut of a sleeve or a wasp waist combined with a dash of post-modern  contemporary chaos. For this collection, the designer creates what he calls “a dream scape ~ a new, more complex environment for my characters to exist in.”

Sharp jackets & loose trousers 
As a recently graduated fashion student, Jeffrey enjoys the research behind the clothes that then becomes part of the narrative. “We’re pushing ourselves,” he says today. “This sense of us learning new things ~ I think it’s both implicit in this season, and explicit in that it’s kind of become the concept itself.” Jeffrey's partnership with The Woolmark Company informed most of the collection as it is created using Merino wool. He says he became immersed in the wool’s properties when he visited the Bower Roebuck and Laxton Yarns mills. The Woolmark Company, Knoll yarns and Savile Row fabric suppliers Holland & Sherry, Nikke and Scabal all contributed to the richness of the collection. “The starting points were iconic couture, Louis XIV and grandeur,” Jeffrey says. “We’ve had access to such beautiful fabrics that there’s a greater respect for fabric and construction than we’ve been able to show before."

Jeffrey's drama & theatricality
The designer wanted drama and sense of character to pervade the collection and he says it harks back to the 1650s, via the 1950s to his present in 2016 East London. The designer's team are expert tailors and have an encyclopedic fashion knowledge that shows in this collection. Jeffrey says the key tailoring styles this season are what he calls the ‘Bitch’ and the ‘Bastard'. The first features a curved fastening, changing a man's silhouette and finished with covered buttons. This is then amplified as a full skirted coat, a type of new New Look. Whereas he describes the Bastard tailoring as: “Beautiful and chaotic, nipped right in at the waist to accentuate hip movement.” Pockets layered together suggest the form of military clothing and apparently relate to the backgrounds of both Jeffrey’s father and that of artist and his collaborator Jack Appleyard's dad. Jeffrey says the Swarovski crystal embellished boxer shorts are inspired by themes of decay and ascendancy. His collection of shorts includes ones with scalloped edging, made from wool crêpe and seersucker, as well as those with Jeffrey’s signature ‘art denim’.

 Chainmail, face paint & wooden clogs
The otherworldly look of this season's show was enhanced by models' pale, painted and powdered faces that distorted the shape of eyes and lips and the stacked wooden platform clogs they wore. The designer says that collaboration is at the heart of Loverboy collections. Jack Appleyard created a collection of chain mail accessories, fellow Central St Martin's graduate Matty Bova made special pieces for the show and William Farr created the flower strewn catwalk installation. It all adds up to a ground-breaking, experimental collection that demonstrates Charles Jeffrey has an unusual vision and instinctive talent and ambition for creating new designs that will draw people to his work. His first AW16 collection will be available at stores including Dover Street Market, Joyce and VFiles.

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