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October 21, 2017
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Craig Green A/W 2013 at London Collections: Men. Source: londoncollections.co.uk.
Lou Dalton A/W 2013.
Source: londoncollections.co.uk.

Moving from traditional tailoring techniques to streetwear and the avant-garde, London Collections: Men (LCM) A/W 2013 offered a panoply of styles that examined Britain's cultural and style heritage, as well as introducing a larger fashion audience to modern techniques and trends. 

While several shows were conceptually shaky, most of this year's showings were impressive and put the event in good standing with other fashion week heavyweights like Paris, Milan and New York.

Day 1

Lou Dalton 

The name of up-and-comer Lou Dalton has been rumbling through the streets London for several years - and with good reason. This collection really shows her talent for men's outerwear; in particular, the strong tailoring, eye-catching paneling and pocket details. Her two-tone approach to back panels also adds energizing bursts of reds and browns over more traditional cuts.

Showcasing a few of her tight knits also allowed Dalton to add a bit of colourful layering which complimented her overall line. Distinct, clean silhouettes on suit jackets were in high contrast against the larger builds of her parkas. It's no wonder Liberty and Opening Ceremony have been showing such an interest in her lately.

Orlebar Brown 

Orlebar Brown's A/W 2013 themes of "Beach Frivolity," "Poolside Decadence" and "Miami Nights" came out of left field - and straight from 1950s Americana and tipping its hat to Art Basel Miami Beach. Proving that vacationers retreat to warmer climates during the winter months, the predominantly beachwear collection was accompanied by light jackets and button downs, for traversing from the beach to the gallery. Seldom is swimwear topped with formal jackets: a sign that tourists don't simply reside poolside.

That being said, the line does appears a bit dated in parts. With little inspiration coming from current trends (outside of, perhaps, thumbhole-equipped long sleeve shirts from 2007), these '50s styles may end up being relegated to the closets of men in their 50s.

Agi & Sam A/W 2013.
Source: londoncollections.co.uk.

Topman 

Topman's crème-heavy line also used auburn and dark marigold to add dashes of colour to the conglomerate's arsenal. Working more with weather-resistant parkas than it has in the past (perhaps due to its expansion into the Americas), the show took in some influential names, with the likes of Tinie Tempah, Henry Holland and David Gandy. With eye-catching use of the red and orange spectrums, Topman smartly avoided the colour-blocking trend in favour of a less drastic approach. The healthy smattering of chunky knitwear and wool polo shirts, along with the prevalence of turtlenecks, gave the impression of comfort and style. A North American release is still to be determined.

MAN: Astrid Andersen 

The first of Topman and Fashion East's MAN showings. A strong hip-hop influence ran through a collection adorned by heavily bronze-lipped models. Wide-legged trousers complemented sport kit-like tops in uniformly matching colours, strengthening the sport analogy. Along with a button-down denim jumpsuit and elongated denim engineer shirt (which may remind some of Carol Christian Poell, oddly enough), the line would be very much at home in New York, more than anywhere else.

MAN: Craig Green 

Green's use of layering was reminiscent of Rad Hourani or Damir Doma, evoking a sense of the avant-garde that remains under-represented at LCM. The post-modern, fence-like head adornments certainly added to the effect, creating a skewed perspective or angular quality to the affair.

Blending Italian and Japanese design aesthetics with Western cuts, the collection brought together different international approaches to avant-garde menswear. The fact that Topman brought such a group into MAN may be a hint that the fashion giant is considering a direction that's a bit darker than its usual fare.

Hackett London A/W 2013.
Source: londoncollections.co.uk.

MAN: Agi & Sam

With a Paul Smith meets country bohemian vibe, Agi & Sam brought interesting pattern work using a wide array of colours. Wide berets and vests worn by bearded models evoked the huntsman - perfectly accessorised with an accompanying basset hound. Hunting vests were worn over peacoats and v-neck, zip sweaters to bring out the modern qualities of antiquated items. It's almost as if Agi & Sam are trying to bring us through an expediated history of British fashion in the span of one runway show.

It's a pleasure to see that the young line is truly living up to its hype. The final team from the MAN collective, Topman and Fashion East's program proved that it has a serious knack for choosing world-class talent to help mature.

Hackett London 

Capping-off the public shows for Day One was one of the most classically appealing of the week by Hackett London: 19th-century Londoner meets Prohibition-era American. Bowler caps, bow ties and bags were the accessories of choice, as perfectly tailored blazers, peacoats and sailor-cut trenches swathed across the brick runway. Pinstripe slacks, patterned shirts and waistcoats added nice details that really brought out the shape of the jackets and contrasted well with the accessories. Erin O'Connor ended the show with a bang, walking down the runway in a buttoned-down blouse and velvet cummerbund, as her dangling, undone bowtie playfully swung.

Day 2

Nicole Farhi 

A refreshing blend of classic, understated slacks and jackets with louder, uniquely patterned sweaters and long-sleeves. A strong emphasis on scarves brought out the dandy in the collection and allowed Farhi to build upon her masculine aesthetic while still avoiding the brash. Comfortable cool runs deep in this line, as does a certain playfulness, especially in the line's topper: a red velvet suit that came across as sophisticated yet youthful.

Aitor Throup A/W 2013.
Source: londoncollections.co.uk.

Aitor Throup 

At Aitor Throup's gallery showcase, he toyed with his iconic contortionist mannequins in such at way that they seemed to be moving. His militaristic style was quite at home in this setting and his functional design and aesthetic reminiscent of Acronym and Stone Island.

Throup's attempt at twist-seam pants - first popularised in the avant-garde set by Carol Christian Poell - fit perfectly with the character of his modern, militaristic outerwear. Always one to add a touch of the macabre, skull-shaped backpacks were shown, while the steel suspension frames in several areas held floating mesh frame heads. The effect gave an up-close and personal look for those who may not be familiar with Throup's work. One of the stand-outs of the week.      

Martine Rose

Using a small rotating platform of freeze-framed models, this show almost seemed like a bizarre game show. Awkwardly over-sized pants abounded, along with denim and sweatpants that seemed to belong on the schoolyard than a runway. While Rose's shirting was as strong as always, the rest of the collection seemed rather barren: topping it all off with a panel-patched jacket adorned entirely with liquor company logos. Who knew Nascar was going to be making its LCM debut?

Sibling

Working with a serious gift for panache, Sibling's show featured a fully masked ensemble with the apparel to back it up. Moving from heavy knit shirts and giant mittens to read cheetah print pants, it was clear that chunky knits had become the group's newest muse. The result was a showing that combined athletic-wear with overtures from the High Street. It reminded me of Eastern European hip-hop/street style of the late '90s and early 2000s. Risks were defintely taken with this collection, with the result being retrospective yet with an original, innovative composition. 

Qasimi A/W 2013.
Source: londoncollections.co.uk.

Day 3

E. Tautz 

Fresh from news that E. Tautz will soon be producing a womenswear line, designer Patrick Grant brought his Savile Row experience to Day Three of LCM. While still showing off some of the hand appliquéd knits that the label has become synonymous with, the approach was a little less playful than usual.

Running the gamut from patterned tailored pants to oversized slacks, suiting showed itself to be the forerunner for E. Tautz A/W 2013. The patterned peacoats and trenches shied away from flat colours and had a distinctly modern flavour. An interesting juxtaposition came in the difference in tailoring between suiting and outerwear, as suit jackets were generally form-fitting, while trenches fell looser and appeared much more spacious. Considering Grant's win for best menswear designer at the 2010 British Fashion Awards, it's apparent that his aptitude for manipulating form has a very strong London influence.     

Qasimi  

One of the things I really appreciate about Khalid Al Qasimi is his unique use of leather and patterns. Using various wools and mixed fabrics with leather collar details drew the eye toward the angular quality of Qasimi's tight triangular patterns. Infusing this line with a healthy amount of pine and a dash of waxed hunter green carried with it a youthful exuberance. A three-tone patterned shirt and accompanying pattern jacket and pant combination was one highlight, balanced with a comfortable thick collar trim. Much of the line presented a progressive approach that some traditionalists may shy away from. Qasimi's crisp slant on balancing colour with pattern was brilliant.    

Xander Zhou A/W 2013.
Source: londoncollections.co.uk.

Matthew Miller 

Matthew Miller returned with laser-cut word decals and punk infusion, through a line that included both casual and formal. Pairing chunky boots with suits exemplified the rebellious tone of the A/W 2013 line, as he took some more traditionally clean styles and injected them with a bit of street grit. Metal wristbands, biker leathers, backpacks with collared shirts, and the slogan "Born to Fail" worked to subvert structured tailoring and breathe a touch of chaos into it. This idea of bringing together England's two vying fashion archetypes - classic tailoring and punk - provides a modern cultural glance that crosses genres.

Xander Zhou

A/W 2013 for Xander Zhou seemed to be a play on traditional ideals about masculine form, in a marriage of deconstructed tailoring, sportswear and streetwear. Many of the line's pieces displayed a different approach to the male body, as pants sat higher than usual, jackets were cut higher, and shoulders were built-out or exposed. The exclusive use of sneakers and trainers gave the event a very "boys will be boys" attitude: a perfect sentiment that was emblazoned in font over several of Zhou's sweaters. 

As one of the final public shows of LCM, this amalgamation of styles was a great wrap-up to a three-day event that saw a myriad of approaches to menswear in London. The holistic approach that Zhou uses in his inspiration and design really shows a cooperative effort between styles and helps to reiterate the male camaraderie of his slogan.  

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