London Fashion Week: Men's (formerly known as London Collections: Men) is actually more of a long weekend. But, when has anyone in the fashion industry ever observed a calendar that actually makes sense? This season, shows from a mostly British roster of designers included marquee names like Vivienne Westwood and J.W. Anderson, rising stars like Graces Wales Bonner, and newcomers to watch like Samuel Ross of A Cold Wall and the design duo behind Rottingdean Bazaar. As with all men's weeks around the world, there was some good to be found, some bad, some unnecessary and a whole lot of celebrities we won't be able to identify until somebody invents a Shazam for B-list faces. But here, we focused on a brief highlights reel of only the best collections from London for fall 2017.
Unless you're a celebrity paid to be there, going to a fashion show dressed in that designer's clothing is usually a cheesy move; we'd argue it's somewhere in between wearing a Dave Matthews Band T-shirt to a Dave Matthews Band show and going to a Dave Matthews Band show in general. So, it's significant that a noticeable number of guests at the Craig Green show — fashion industry types who would rather murder-suicide themselves and their Instagram followers than look uncool — came through wearing Craig Green. The designer famously made people cry at his first show; such is the emotional response he engenders in even the most jaded attendees.
The hype is, of course, partially just hype. But it also comes from the buzz of seeing a designer at the height of his abilities putting self-assured artistry into fashion. The beauty of Craig Green's creations do a lot to justify this whole very expensive endeavor of gathering people into a giant room to look at pants and jackets.
Could you wear any of these meticulously made visions of dressing, which, this time around, included laced-together strips of armor crafted from fabric that recalled stiff Oriental rugs? Some of them. It's worth noting that guests who came in Craig Green were mostly wearing variations of his accessible strappy jackets from last spring. Green will soon roll out a core basics collection to support his business and allow him room to keep creating fantasy, and this show featured fairly straightforward, tailored jackets for the first time. Green, like Rei Kawakubo and Martin Margiela before him, may be one of those rare examples of designers who can do both. There are a few people who can wear Craig Green statement pieces, but there are many more who find themselves inspired by what he does, and then go buy a button-down.
Never question Bobby Abley's commitment to a theme. Upon reading his show notes, which declared that his fall 2017 collection was inspired by The Power Rangers, anyone who has followed Abley's previous output knew to expect an assortment of clothing that would be literal in its translation.
He didn't just splash a logo on a hoodie, Kith-style. No, these were knits with the distinctive Power Rangers costumes blown up on front: a track jacket with the franchise's lightning bolt logo cut in half by Abley's signature teddy bear silhouette; a women's bikini top in Power Rangers yellow paired with a matching, fuzzy felt skirt. And to put a fine point on it, a few models walked the runway carrying prop helmets. (There was also a model in a white leather harness, which seemed a bit incongruous, unless there's an underground Power Rangers BDSM scene that I'm not privy to. Please @ me.)
Abley has always served a niche audience; this collection should continue to serve them. And there are plenty of wearable pieces mixed in there, too, especially a pair of super-cozy monogrammed sweats. There's also something to be said for just having fun. When's the last time a runway show had attendees grinning and dancing a gleefully arrhythmic version of the hand jive mid-show, as one lady across the way from me did? Let Mighty Morphin' Bobby Abley live.
As the last designer to show on the third day of London Fashion Week: Men's, Martine Rose would inevitably face some runway fatigue from attendees who had spent the past 72 hours shuttling between presentations. That she doubled-down by asking guests to take a 30-minute cab ride to Tottenham to see her fall 2017 collection on the night of a tube strike was either confident or foolhardy (or both). Thankfully, it turned out to be worth the trek.
Held in an indoor market, the runway snaking between mini hair salons and stalls hawking South American food, Rose's show was a reminder that being cool and having fun are not mutually exclusive. The clothes were sexed-up ‘80s office wear, done to look androgynous and expensive. It was a wardrobe made for late-night Prince jam sessions that roll into later-night Sade grind-alongs. You can imagine someone like fka Twigs taking Rose's backless khaki trench coat for a spin, worn, as it was on the runway, with a silky shirt and a tie tucked into a cinched belt. Twigs, a guest at the show, pointed and smiled at a model wearing a pair of black leather pants that suggestively laced up the back. As Rose's star continues to rise, here's hoping her sense of humor and eye for slinky design remain steady.
J.W. Anderson crossed over to fashion's big leagues a while ago, and you could sense it at his runway show; the vibe was more "fashion with a capital F" than pretty much anything else this weekend. If any guests minded being cramped between temporary blue and purple walls on either side of a runway so narrow that models brushed against their legs, it didn't show. A lot of people are watching to see what Anderson does next.
And this time around, what he did next was a shitload of crochet. Fashioned from the type of multi-colored, kitschy squares that resemble the blanket on Roseanne's couch (a motif also employed by the less-exciting British designer Henry Holland in 2011), the knits made their way onto satchels and cardigan pockets and even on the tongues of leather sneakers, with oversize bits flopping around on the floor like the world's least practical Swiffer. Any dust bunnies left behind were picked up by extra-long scarves that dragged along the runway in a wondrously IDGAF manner.
The hodgepodge of references also manifested medieval prints and some funny sequined pants. The real stunner from the collection, though, was a double-breasted grey wool overcoat with rounded lapels and billowing, contrast-white, knit sleeves. It embodied everything J.W. Anderson has made a name for himself by executing: glorious craftsmanship, generous proportions, unexpected details and, presumably, a four-figure price point.
If you follow fashion, you've probably heard the term "effortlessly chic" bandied around almost as often as other phrases that mean nothing in 2017, like "day-to-night looks" and "athleisure" and "creative director." But the father-son design duo of Joe and Charlie Casely-Hayford made a strong case for reconsidering what it means to look really damn good without trying too hard. The key, they suggest, is keeping colors simple and rich, and letting fit and fabric do the heavy lifting. Wide-leg pants billowed out from underneath an extra-long navy cardigan. A textured overcoat was paired with cropped trousers in the same material, and button-up shirts featured an oversize, ribbed track-jacket collar. Some pieces — like a simple sweater with what appeared to be two neck holes and a strange blazer lost in a sea of loose threads — threatened to derail the collection. But when Casely-Hayford hits, no one touches the designers' particular brand of cool.