Tuesday 17 January 2017

Robust Urban Wear Dominates Men's AW17 Shows

 Backstage neon and chunky knits at Christopher Raeburn's show in London, photographed by Liron Weissman. On the cover is the new AW17 Belstaff collection
On runways from London to Milan, urban camouflage with a strong Seventies vibe dominated the Autumn/Winter 2017 men's wear season. Many designers' new collections were sporty yet bulky & rustic enough to do another day of battle in the metropolis. Our special correspondent and fashion editor Limor Helfgott looks at the latest directions and tumultuous changes causing seismic shifts in the fashion world, including combining men's and women's collections on the same catwalk

Barak Shamir wearing Vivienne
Westwood. Photo: Filipe Phitzgerald
THIS season, the biannual men's wear showcase London Collections: Men was rebranded as LFWM  ~ London Fashion Week Men’s ~ a significant step towards pushing the men’s fashion industry up to the reach and importance of the women's collections. Dylan Jones, chairman of LFWM, said that the new name will help men's wear, especially as brands continue showing men's and women's wear together. Does that mean that the two events will eventually be merged into one? Time will tell, as the revolutions in how fashion shows are presented and sold continue worldwide. In the meantime, London Fashion Week Men’s is a key player in the global menswear fashion scene with the best of Savile row brands such as Chester Barrie and Kent & Curwen showing new work alongside experimental and innovative designers such as Ximon Lee and Sibling.
Brooklyn and Williamsburg may be considered the home of hipsters, but London has Dalston, Brick lane, Shoreditch

Brooklyn and Williamsburg may be considered the home of
Corduroy-wearing hipster at Xander Zhou
hipsters, but London has Dalston, Brick lane, Shoreditch and other urbans villages that are full of trendsetters hipsters and goths: this is certainly a city full of avant-garde inspiration. More than fifty brands presented collections over four days and London once again offered a well-organised and diverse range of British and international designers.
Designers from China, Korea, France, Italy and Scandinavia showed their designs and proved once again that the British capital is being recognised as an international fashion hub. However, notable by their absence this season, were Burberry and Paul Smith. Burberry, trendsetters as usual, announced they will be consolidating their men and women’s shows during the women’s fashion week. Paul Smith chose to showcase his collections in Paris and Milan. Not all the trends seen on the catwalk were new and many were different interpretations of what we have seen before, but there was certainly a twist and a new experimental edge. What should we be looking out for next winter then? Here are some of the key directions for your wardrobe if you want to master the AW17 look.

London Fashion Week Men’s is a key player in global fashion with the best of Savile row brands  showing alongside experimental  designers

Include Leather This season across many runways, leather was present in different shapes and forms. Chinese designer Xander Zhou presented oriental futurism and offered his own quirky interpretation of outerwear alongside sharp tailoring. 
Long, black leather at Xander Zhou AW17
Some key pieces in the collection included shearling coats and long leather jackets in bright blue and shiny silver, and oversized, almost off-the-shoulder jackets with batwing sleeves. Glittering turtlenecks were also seen in this collection, spilt over

and offering mid-riff exposure, as the designer said himself: “You’d better work on those abs!” Berthold’s AW17 collection also explores the rhythm of restriction with fuzzy, dimpled, and crisp textures that are taken from torn, soft leather and papers left folded and aged over time. While Berlin-based, Chinese-born Korean designer Ximon Lee showed unconventional outerwear in his AW17 collection: Called Shame, it explored the space between the conscious and unconscious. A strong Seventies vibe was notable with pieces such as long, patent leather coat, flared pants and stand out pieces such as sheer shirts or velvet trousers. A frequent motif was the deconstructed leather pouch or vest, thrown over the shoulder.

A Seventies vibe was notable with pieces such as long, patent leather coats, flared pants and sheer shirts or velvet trousers

The historic British company Belstaff, which has been going for 93 years, offered men's and women's wear with classic silhouettes such as the peacoat and duffel coat, recreated in luxury Melton wool. Notable this season are new vintage
Leather coats & jackets at Belstaff
treatments used to reinterpret the weather-beaten outerwear worn by naval sailors during WWII.  Waterproof  hand-waxed cotton and leather reinforced the stylish functionality of naval outerwear. An Officer’s coat with silver naval buttons was a stand-out for women, while the classic Milford coat (originally designed for Sherlock) has been updated with the naval buttons for men. The parka plays an integral role, emphasised by an all-weather version based on a Belstaff archival piece that was created for the military in 1960. Made from down-filled ballistic nylon, originally developed as a material for flak jackets for WWII airmen. For men, the leather theme has a well-worn patina for a lived-in effect while the women’s showed Belstaff’s fabric innovation, a lightweight leather blouson and a machine-washable nappa leather jacket plus a crackled vinyl-effect featuring different naval emblems emblazoned on the back.
Christopher Raeburn deconstructs materials like bomb disposal uniforms, blankets and camouflage jackets with bright yellow neon splashes

Christopher Raeburn. Photo:Liron Weissman
A Dash of Neon
Christopher Raeburn brings another one of his innovative, sustainable collections this AW17 season. Both men's and women's wear were presented and the designs were all about remaking, reducing and recycling. The designer used deconstructed materials including bomb disposal uniforms, blankets and camouflage jackets with bright yellow neon splashes. Even the backpacks had neon protective covers. Women's wear remade pieces came in the form of Utility dresses, parachute parkas and bomber jackets, with a focus on femininity. But a strong men's wear aesthetic dominated in the rest of the range to ensure a unisex offering that compliments the entire collection. Raeburn's pioneering work has brought sustainable design to a more mainstream fashion audience, aiming to combine both a luxury and integrity.

Tuck Your Shirt into Baggy Trousers

Baggy & bright at Liam Hodges AW17
Neon was key also at Liam Hodges, who created a collection that conjured up a dystopia inspired by the film Total Recall. On his catwalk, we also saw a couple of other key trends this season: tucked in shirts and wide trousers. The collection featured layered long-sleeved T-shirts tucked into padded salopette style trousers with removable pockets and collarless puffa jackets. Quite a few designers kicked off their shows this season with trousers that swung wide. Forget the skinny fits men have been squeezing into, the wide trousers are making their way into your closet and it looks like they are here to stay. We are loving this trend, there is a romantic nonchalant effect to baggy trousers, and they are certainly more comfortable. Korean Designer Songzio featured the high-waisted version of baggy trousers with a Nineties aesthetic and a grunge vibe.

A couple of other key trends this season: tucked in shirts and wide trousers ~ forget the skinny jeans

 Suede and rollnecks at Songzio AW17
Keep Your Neck Warm: Rollnecks and Hoods
One of the most recurring silhouettes for next winter is the rising neckline. The higher the better, with some designers presenting bolder versions of the roll-neck even rising over the face. Songzio’s collection is one example where a high neck was presented throughout the collection. Called Misanthrope, once again the range blurred the boundaries between fashion and art,  continuing with the Paint on Black’ concept: each item from the collection inspired by the designer’s original paintings. The fusion of abstract art with modernist clothing is the brand’s unique signature style. From cold sharply tailored suits to romantic volumes, every season is another delicately curated exposition.This dramatic and bold collection was balanced with delicate art prints and presented dense knitwear from capes to voluminous bomber jackets in hues of brown and black complimented by the warm touch of mustang patchwork.

One of the most recurring silhouettes for next winter is the rising neckline, the higher the better

 High necklines at Berthold AW17
At Berthold, necklines were even higher in a collection inspired by wide, desolate hospital corridors and angular shadows. Called Asylum, it pushed and pulled proportions with dimensions seeming to meet and diverge. Thick, rough bandages wrapping heads and masking identities translated into seemingly limitless volumes yet still full of energy. Maharishi’s silhouettes this season include inspiration from traditional African clothing with prominent stylistic references to the Djellaba, a hooded, long loose fitting robe from north west Africa. Another is the Djellabiya, a hoodless wide-collared and long-sleeved robe from the horn of Africa.

Boys in mini-skirts and women in deconstructed suits with powerful shoulder silhouettes: a rousing flirtation with gender fluidity.

Get Cozy with Crotchet
Ringing true to the original meaning of
 Rising model Barak Shamir in crochet at
Vivienne Woodwood. Photo: Filipe Phitzgerald
unisex, the highly anticipated debut of Vivienne Westwood's Ecotricity marked the return of the queen of anarchic style to London this season after several years of showing in Milan. Featuring boys in rib-knit sweaters and mini-skirts and women in deconstructed suits with powerful shoulder silhouettes, the collection presented a rousing flirtation with gender fluidity. Models wore crowns, and were dressed in offbeat patchwork knits, unconventional pinstripe suiting and hybrid layering of staple fabrics such as Prince of Wales checked wool and chunky knitwear. Heritage plaids on playful suits were teamed with shawls and crochet sweaters. Men's wear collections will also be featured in February during fashion week, as some of the designers are still experimenting with showing both women's wear and men's at the same time. However, now that the men's wear showcase is officially a part of its big sister, London Fashion Week, we can’t help but look forward to the next season and wonder what LFWM has in store for us in June.


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