It’s clear that colour is a big question of the upcoming Spring/summer 17 menswear shows, starting today with London Collections Men. Much of it is due to the aftershocks reverberating from Alessandro Michele’s new eye-popping palette at Gucci. The colours last week at his resort show for the brand were so vivid they were almost violent. How much will everyone else in menswear respond to this visual jolt?
London menswear excels when designers exist in their own world. Craig Green has his own specific dialogue with colour, a language that this season he pushed to places new. His starting point was scarves, but let’s cut straight to the middle of the show, where wrapped jackets were rendered in bleached out shades for a series of blissful looks in shades that felt wholly original. It was the sort of work that proved why he was a worthy winner of this year’s BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund, with a prize of £150,000.
“First we made it in saturated colours,” he said backstage afterwards, “then we hated it and bleached everything out.” So was born these excellent looks of great accomplishment. But also on the catwalk were versions in the original strong colours. Why? “Last week we looked at a photo and decided we liked them again, so we made them all again last week.” Such is the pre-show chop-and-change process of a lively mind.
There was so much else, like the quilted jackets of patchwork eiderdown patterns, mostly based in blue. Menswear classics were dissected then stitched back together with big looping rope, like a reinvigorated trench. And those seemingly banal monochrome shirt and pant looks at the end? They were entirely cut away at the back, held with knotted ties.
Backstage, the measure of a designer’s standing is the number of iPhones shoved in their face to record their explanation of what they’ve just shown. Around Craig I counted eleven that I could see, many held over the shoulders of the huddle’s first row. Maybe it’s better to catch him at a quieter moment. Craig was outside the pub near the venue where I wrote this, having a celebratory drink with his mum. What was the process of getting those extraordinary washed out shades? He said they bleached them, washed them, bleached them again, then redyed them. Oh, and they also unpicked the garments, then reattached them to mix different shades. “It was like working in a launderette,” he said. “I still have purple dye in my nails.”
Arduous toil, the worth of which shows in the results. But wait: what about production? How will they recreate these specific shades for his 56 global stockists? That’s a question for tomorrow. Time for another well deserved drink.
Earlier in the day, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy sent out a collection of exceptional ambition and drama as part of the MAN showcase for young designers. Jeffrey runs a club called Loverboy, hence the name of the label, and his look embraces the chaos of the young after dark. But this is no trashy set-up. With his spring/summer 17 show, he proved how to heighten abandon with tailoring of real discipline and intuition.
Waiters jackets buttoned along a dramatic zigzag, while a blazer had a cinched waist and slashed sleeves. Pinstripe trousers had a waistband that wrapped around twice, while a long belted lightweight coat had swing and flow. In his work, Jeffrey was thinking about couture. “We tried to do the Dior ‘New Look’ via Madame Gres,” he said backstage. Yes, couture is womenswear. Yes, it takes an encyclopedic knowledge to know what he’s talking about.