Those who have been in the fashion game long enough will remember when LC:M was just a day tacked on the back of London Fashion Week. Today, LC:M, short for London Collections Men, has its own four-day event, which has underscored what many people concede to be fashion canonical law: There is no men's style like London men's style. From the polished dandies of Savile Row to the uber cool kids in East London to the youth quake in Notting Hill, this city pulsates with electricity when it comes to men's fashion — and the money rolls in, too. "Sales [of men's clothing in the UK] rose by 22% over the last five years totaling £13.5 billion in 2014," explained chair of LC:M, Dylan Jones, also noting that the UK and international menswear sector is currently growing faster than womenswear.
According to Caroline Rush, CEO of the BFC, there are now 77 shows, 67 percent more than the inaugural event in 2012, and double the number of attendees. In other words, it has been one big blurry fashion party here in London.
The week did include a few disappointments: Topshop looked a bit cheaper than usual, and was not as exciting as we've come to expect; while Tom Ford's iridescent suiting just felt dated. But here, we've highlighted some of the best in show:
House of Holland
Despite having just delivered a 67-look resort collection (more than double what most designers show), the whirling dervish that is Henry Holland still had the energy to debut his first menswear collection at Selfridges on Sunday. "I looked at my childhood and all the things that I loved and basically it involved good food, football and fun," he told Fashionista of his inspiration. "I also thought how a House of Holland boy would dress and I went from there." That manifested in 90's rave clothes with slogans such as "I just want to enjoy myself," clashing rainbow and grid patterns, and neon pops on denim. It was all was youthful, energetic and unrelentingly fun. This is the kind of collection that creates real excitement on the shop floor and also has oodles of editorial appeal.
Holland also dove into new commercial territory by offering a direct to retail scheme — a model Moschino and Versus have also experimented with. The collection was sold via launch partners like Selfridges, Opening Ceremony, Galeries Lafayette simultaneously the same day it was shown to press.
As we've come to expect from the Fashion East alum, Craig Green's show pulsated with emotion and creativity. His show was jarring in so many ways, and people were left puzzled by the sheets of fabric attached to large sticks, which all but obscured the models that were carrying them. In fact, he was making a statement on how fabric can conceal the body. He also tapped into the big citrus color trends: there were top-to-toe looks in juicy oranges, yellows and green, including his now-trademark karate uniform and wide leg trousers. This season, he had long fabric ties dangling all over the place like an unkempt ninja. There were odd details like nipple tassels that reached to the ground, meant to demonstrate the power that lurks in a breast. It was notable for being a true agender collection. Green told us backstage he will be sizing with women in mind, as well as "the tiny little lithe guys."
Jonathan Anderson's charming personality came through in spades in his colourful, joyful show, where — surprise — men wore very cool Mary Janes. The androgynous collection also included cuffed judo trousers and kimono-esque blazers, which we also saw at Craig Green, but these had a more wearable vibe.
Wait a minute: was that a lace shirt on a dude at Burberry? It was. And a giraffe print shirt, and a lace trench coat, all shown under the open skies and rare sunshine at Kensington Gardens. The perfectly organized show sent goose bumps everywhere thanks to musician Rhodes accompanied by a 24-piece orchestra. Christopher Bailey also spliced in some ladies wear from the resort collection, sported by its latest look book model, Ella Richards. There was the usual star-studded front row, but the collection still took center stage. Looks from a new fitted tailoring line called the "Chelsea" stood out via swoon-worthy jackets and trousers, as did fantastic cashmere sweat pants.
At the end of the show when we congratulated Mr. Bailey, he was his usual boy-next-door self. No airs, no phoniness. In fact, he was more host with the most than creative director/CEO: his main concern was: "Did you enjoy the show?" And the answer would be yes.
While it's hard to play favorites in a field so full of talent, we have to talk about breakout star Grace Wales Bonner of Wales Bonner, whom we first ID'ed in April when she was chosen for Victoria and Albert's "Fashion in Motion" series. At her Saturday show under the Fashion East umbrella at ICA, the crowd fell into a hushed, reverential silence. The collection's starting point was the journey of Malik Ambar, a poor man in Ethiopia who became a wealthy ruler in India. The clothes mixed African and Indian references, ranging from cotton and linens in earthy tones, to more luxurious fabrics like velvet and silk. It was a stirring collection, solidifying Grace Wales Bonner as one to watch.
Alexander McQueen also gave a fresh new jolt to traditional Savile Row tailoring: Sarah Burton audaciously put an embroidered sea faring motif on a suit. Its eventual wearer has to be fearless in fashion, so FROW-ers played guessing games over which celeb would rock it on the red carpet. We heard the names Idris Elba, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. But we think it could also suit the increasingly fashion-forward Chris Pratt.