It was rather fitting that despite the recent bout of spring sunshine the weather on menswear day was cold and rainy – it was, after all, the Autumn/Winter 2011-12 collections that we were there to see. But despite the hair-ruining drizzle and ankle-chilling temperatures the boys were out in force. We only get one day to ourselves at London Fashion Week so the weather wasn’t going to stop us enjoying ourselves.
If the idea of looking at winter clothes before you’ve even had the chance to get your summer staples out of the closet is getting you down, then I have good news – it looks like this winter is going to be fun! There are certain practicalities that need to be addressed when it comes to Autumn/Winter collections. Boring things like waterproofs and ‘comfort’ are important, but these things that don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with style. Thankfully a few designers took it upon themselves to redesign even the most boring and functional winter items.
First up is Sibling. Their knitwear designs put some much needed rock ’n’ roll into items that can so easily be ordinary. Apart from the Kiss inspired panda jumper, the big win was with their Mickey Mouse eared Kiss balaclavas. Similar winter headgear was seem over at Kokon To Zai who blended fair isle and bobble hats to come up with a balaclava so good looking I think I’d wear it all year round.
Shoe-wise the styles were smart and very much what we’ve been used to for the past few seasons. I’m more of a trainers kinda guy but the difference in the Autumn/Winter 2011 shoes is that while technically being ‘smart’ the colours came straight from the blingingest trainers you’ve ever seen. From Matthew Millers cobalt blue and day-glo yellow lace ups to Kokon To Zai’s platform biker boots and Cassette Playa‘s gorgeously lurid Dr. Martens, the city gent and country farmer shoes were reinvented in crayon coloured glory. While dressing head to toe in these rainbow colours will prove a tall order for most people there’s nothing quite as chic as dressing all black with a pair of blindingly bright shoes. Take that Seasonal Affective Disorder!
The other noticeable trend was oversized backpacks, Matthew Miller’s designs were enormous and trimmed with utilitarian details that tied the clothes and accessories together nicely. Over at Christopher Shannon his Eastpak collaboration led to plenty of backpacks that fitted in nicely with the ornate sportswear that his designs have come to typify. Sportswear is a tricky business, get it wrong and the clothes look cheap and unstructured; the antithesis of fashion, especially when menswear has become so smart of late. Thankfully Astrid Andersen had some of the best sportswear designs I saw all day. I don’t have much need to carry around a basketball, but thanks to Astrid’s gold chain basketball bag, I’m going to have to think of a reason to do just that.
It wasn’t all a kaleidoscope of press grabbing over-the-top designs though. James Long had some beautiful looks, lilac and purple knits were frayed and deconstructed and contrasted nicely with skinny black PVC trousers. There were more pared down looks in his collection too, featuring a traditional autumnal colour scheme of dark browns and luscious pony skin jackets. Tween showed a beautifully wearable collection in similar shades. Tailored jackets with gorgeous cropped trousers and functional accessories, made for a great end to the days shows. The whole range was wearable and enough to make me dispense with my normal penchant for anything outrageous. Of course there are plenty of other amazing things to talk about, 3D suits, gold body paint, Ken dolls, penis hats and much, much more including designer profiles, interviews and my favourite looks. Stay tuned Robot Lovers…
Words & Photos by Warren Beckett