This year the ostentatious St George Church, Bloomsbury, was host to the annual London College of Fashion MA Menswear catwalk show. On Monday 7th January, during the London Fashion Week Men’s period, the church transformed into a fashion frenzy with the MA Menswear Class of 2019 debuting their new collections. Accompanied by live opera singer, Phoebe Haines, singing in multiple languages. The prestigious show presented cultural diversity and inclusivity of both the graduate designers and their collections. The message is clear that London remains open, even if the country is going through a hard time deciding on whether to activate Brexit in March or having another referendum.
The concepts behind the graduates’ collections ranged from back-to-basics sensibilities, strong silhouettes and innovation with a focus on colour, pattern and exquisite tailoring. A selection of 12 graduate fashion designers showcased their collections to a church full of fashion industry professionals and experts. The highly anticipated show did not disappoint. Focusing on gender-fluid fashion, silhouette, colour and pattern; the high standard of craftsmanship, creativity and design ensured the annual LCF MA show exhibited the future of men’s fashion. #GENDER-FLUID
LFWM AW19 paving the way for gender-fluid fashion. Charles Jeffery Loverboy gender-neutral collection ‘Darling Little Sillies’ showcased 1920s elongated garments in bright splashy prints accompanied by 20s style hair and makeup, whilst Art School’s inaugural standalone show presented fashion for any gender; tans, csi-gender, non-binary, Art School represented a community that hasn’t always been represented. Graduate menswear designers Ahmed Serour, Natalie Rushton and Suhyoung Choi debuted their graduate collections with a focus on pushing the boundaries of menswear fashion through gender and identity; creating designs wearable for any gender.
Graduate designer, Ahmed Serour’s non-binary collection was certainly memorable, showcasing garishly clashing prints in bold and bright colours. Inspired by Egyptian kitsch aesthetics, male belly dancers and trash culture; his designs pushed the boundaries and gender and identity, creating a non-binary and gender fluid collection. The Egyptian influence was clear to see, with subtly placed slits and flowing fabrics for veils and sleeves presenting the Middle Eastern culture whilst chains draping from the crotch and face bear resemblance to the dress of belly dancers. Ahmed used Egyptian plastic bags to craft the moulded corsets and bras, adding a sustainable and eco-friendly aspect to his collection. These garments remained particularly memorable for attendees; the styling of clashing prints, chunky golden heels and gold chains emphasised the young designer’s creativity and individuality.
Natalie Rushton presented tailored and traditional menswear garments in soft and pastel colours to create a more gender fluid collection, blurring the lines of masculinity and femininity. Shades of pastel blues, pinks, lilacs and greens created a slightly feminine tone combined with the more masculine designs and silhouette. Her designs consisted of conventional over coats, jackets, shirts and with the added detail of a large exaggerated neck tie and gloves creating timeless menswear looks. With gender fluidity and androgynous looks become more and more prominent within the fashion industry, Natalie’s contemporary collection was bang on trend.
Despite a more muted and subtle colour scheme, Suhyoung Choi chose monochromatic looks to create a strong and consistent collection. The models strutted down the church aisles in powder blues, dove blues, soft nudes and minty greens. From trench coats cinched in at the waist to long shirt dresses, Suhyoung also focused on a more gender fluid collection, influenced by the millennial lifestyle, embracing an ease of movement and minimalism. Boiler suits, high waist trousers and long flowing coats displayed her more contemporary design aesthetic. #SILHOUETTE
The MA graduate designers ensure particular attention was paid to the silhouette and shape of their garments with exquisite tailoring and structure. Four designers in particular; Jilian Chen, Steven Passaro, Zhuti Pan and Daoyuan Ding created strong contemporary menswear collections with superb silhouettes and tailoring.
Jilian Chen’s collection featured a subtle colour palette, instead focusing on the silhouette of each garment. Adding wide-brimmed hats and interesting layering of fabric, his collection was a modern and contemporary take on traditional men’s fashion. Jilian’s collection presented an interesting line up, with his looks starting with a monochromatic all black look and the dark garments gradually became lighter and softer. The sharp edges of the hat, paired with a strong tailored blazer made way to softer stone look featuring a lighter fabric draped over a hat, tailored blazer and trousers.
Steven Passaro’s collection consisted of a muted colour scheme with the focus remaining on the exquisite tailoring. Wide leg trousers with subtle pleated detailing was worn with sharp trench coats, blazers and shirts. The first saw conventional men’s shirt a pop of metallic bronze down the chest and collar to adding a modern touch. Steven also included several other twists on traditional menswear staples; a white shirt featuring an unusual yet interesting collar elongated down the models torso, another white shirt with silver metallic fabric positioned on the collar, shoulder and sleeve as well as a white shirt with a dark metallic bib creating a unique yet wearable item.
Zhuti Pan’s collection presented interesting folding and overlapping of fabric. Taking inspiration from people travelling on the London Underground and standing in close proximity with no personal space. Zhuti’s attention to detail was evident in his men’s trousers with fabric folded at the sides, asymmetrical white shirt with fabric overlapped at the front, short sleeved blue shirt with folded detailing down the models right torso and striking blue pinstripe suit and extra layer of fabric creating a modern take on the traditional suit jacket. His garments were accompanied by top hats and neck scarfs adding a slight air of sophistication to his collection, contrasting with more casual styling of shorts and t-shirts.
A personal favourite within the MA show, Daoyuan Ding’s ‘Migratory Vagueness’ collection was dramatic yet simple. His designs created a strong and remarkably tailored silhouette with almost an entirely monochromatic colour palette of blacks, greys and browns. Daoyuan’s garments of traditional trench coats, trousers and jackets presented asymmetrical tailoring and accompanied by exaggerated wide-brimmed hats and dog tooth print garments. His collection was contemporary yet traditional; displaying slight military aesthetics yet remaining extremely high fashion. The models wore matching gloves and ominous shrouds concealing their faces, mimicking his initial inspiration of nothing being ‘defined’. #COLOUR
In addition to the more conventional menswear collections, several designs used bold colour blocking and monochromatic looks to create more modern and contemporary designs. From soft and elegant menswear to PVC and heavy quilting; Rachel Brown, Siyi Long and Liu Chen paid particular attention to their colour palette.
Rachel Brown’s collection consisted of simple and minimal unwavering silhouettes ensuring the focus remained on the tailoring and colour palette. Focusing on brighter shades of lilacs, oranges and blues her collection created a contrast of colour and shape. Rachel displayed long over coats, blazer and waistcoats worn over simple shirts and trousers.
Contrasting the muted and more feminine collections, Siyi Long debuted an interesting collection focusing on innovation and functionality. Inspired by the movie Mr Mom, Siyi presented sharp monochromatic looks with oversized puffas, wide leg trousers, wide collared jackets and waistcoats. The inspiration came from a business man who becomes a stay-at-home father, with Siyi interpreting this to a high fashion collection. The colour blocking looks saw heavy quilted bags and oversized mittens coinciding with the oversized puffa coats. The most memorable and stand-out look, saw a (fake) baby in a bright red carrier puffa jacket, exploring the ideas of functional, fashionable, fatherhood.
Another unforgettable and artistic collection was, Liu Chen. Titled ‘YOU’, the collection explored sexually aggressive elements combined with humour and liberation through the use of colour and PVC. Liu’s collection presented a contrast of binding and releasing, displaying belt buckles and metal hardware referencing the connotations of BDSM and sexuality. The bright colour scheme of greens, yellows, reds and blues in different shades of patent leather, highlighted the fetishist yet space-age vibes.#PATTERN
Another trend prevalent at LCF’s MA 19 catwalk was the use of pattern and texture. In contrast to the more conventional menswear silhouettes, designers Bongseok Gwon and Chao He showcased more modern and contemporary collections through the use of prints and texture.
Bongseok Gwon presented a modern and edgy collection with oversized garments, baggy jeans, hoodies and black chunky footwear. Bongseok steered away from traditional menswear, opting for a grungier look. Extreme low waist baggy jeans, also known as ‘sagging’, highlighted the rugged and street aspect to his collection, with the jeans often associated with skaters and hip hop artists in the 1990s. The collection consisted of distressed denim patterns and textures, again highlighting the grungy and edgy nature, reinforced by the posture and presentation of the models with hoods up and baggy oversized clothing.
Juxtaposing the distressed and grunge designs of Bongseok, Chao He debuted a bright and bold collection with a focus on colour and print. The designs ensured it was an extremely modern and contemporary collection. Contrasting and clashing prints, almost reminiscent of brush strokes and paintings, created statement yet wearable pieces. Two long patterned over coats, featured exaggerated shoulders to create a more conceptual and high fashion look. This collection used both silhouette and pattern to form eye-catching and innovative designs.
It was a pleasure to attend the annual London College of Fashion MA Menswear 2019 show, witnessing such strong signature styles and aesthetics. From strong silhouettes to bold patterns, the infamous catwalk show presented a variety of menswear collections, each with own unique and innovative design. Paying homage to current trends within the fashion industry; colour blocking, strong tailoring and gender-fluid designs, ensured the designers were paying attention to how the fashion industry is growing and evolving.
As a platform dedicated to discovering and supporting emerging talent, it was an honour to observe such exquisite tailoring, innovation and creativity. The esteemed show ensured LCF has produced several ‘one’s to watch’ in the menswear fashion field.
Words & Catwalk Images By Gaby Smith
Written by Gaby Smith