London Collections: Men AW13 Trend Report

Feature by Rena Niamh Smith | 05 Feb 2013

A couple of weeks back, the boys had their turn in the spotlight with the second London Collections: Men, presenting Autumn/Winter 2013 goodies. Style is at the forefront for all discerning gentlemen these days – it is no longer the era when any attempt to care about what you wear is labelled ‘metro sexual.’  Instead, boy band stars, actors and Davids from Gandy to Cameron sat front row, held parties or attended them, and generally celebrated London as a serious place for fashion, and for serious fashion at that.

On the catwalk there were plenty of purely ‘fashion’ moments of clear eccentricity, such as face masks at Craig Green, but so too was there food for thought for the man on the street. Topshop Design reinvented the humble parka and turned it into the start of an Arctic adventure tale, while Hackett showed pinstripe classic banker looks complete with bowler hats. Here is our round-up of the standout shows during the London Collections: Men...

Richard Nicoll: The Purist

Cool kid Richard Nicoll is known for his stripped back aesthetic, and this season saw an even leaner, meaner version. Skinhead-like, angular faced models showed a minimal, utilitarian-feeling collection. They wore East End skull-beanies with all their thuggish-come-hipster connotations. Inspired by ‘reduction,’ clean lines in block colours of blues and greys. The two-tone pea coats were clean yet luxurious, while double leather made the concept of double denim look like a walk in the park. The introduction of icy silver kept things razor sharp, while the paint-fleck print lent an urban edge.

Sibling: The Rebels

Delivered with all the aggressive speed and hard stares of a punk record, Sibling’s show was a veritable riot in knitwear. Inspired by punk transsexual Jayne County, who was naturally the weapon of choice on the soundtrack, the collection featured her trademark knit that was oversized to almost offensive proportions. Gender was an obvious theme, and Sibling’s tongue-in-cheek attitude brought swagger to baby pink sweaters and leopard-print, made manly by the sauntering youth beneath. Best of gender-bending all, the sweater bearing the floral motto ‘Please Kill Me,’ used notably by punk innovator Richard Hell back in the 1970s. Transplanted onto a comfy winter pullover, it will become the headline success for next Christmas’s anti-Christmas jumper; the Rage Against The Machine vs. the X-Factor of fashion moment.

James Long: New Name

The muddy palette of dark greens and browns belied sparkling roots in the James Long collection. Jazzy knits featuring a fully made-up portrait gave away the inspiration; the films of John Waters and his muse, drag artist Divine. This was a man who was not all he seems; the Far East-inspired embroidery and quilted, padded jackets textures in 70s chocolate box shades seemed to come straight from a gentleman’s boudoir, though silhouettes were made more modern with elasticated trouser hems on the wide pants, worn with bombers and jumpers. The designer used texture rather than colour to achieve his vision. Rubberised trenchcoats were at once curiously camp and archly brilliant. Pink flamingos starred in bead work on sweaters and in the print of tropical Hawaiian shirts, something one guest described as “Brilliant, and I don’t even like flamingos.”

Alexander McQueen: The Big Name Comes Home

True to her talents, Sarah Burton not only  brought back to London today’s international superbrand but even re-styled its very DNA, while staying as true to its heritage as ever. London is the true inheritor of menswear; Savile Row originated professional dress codes, and it was at a tailor’s workshop that Alexander ‘Lee’ McQueen cut his teeth. Against this backdrop, Burton presented a Victorian gothic nightmare tale of plastic-masked Frankenstein’s monsters in grey gangster suits and aristocratic vampires in velvet smoking jackets and dressing gowns. Theatricality was at the centre of McQueen’s vision, and Burton executed on-point.

The Ones To Watch...

At the new design initiative MAN, these names stood out as the hottest tickets for coming seasons.

MAN: Astrid Andersen

Riffing on sportswear, Astrid Andersen presented American football jerseys and track pants re-imagined in Japanese cotton, silk jersey, and Danish mink. Taking cue from Danish body-builders, the palette was masculine in a clean, androgynous Scandiwegian sort of way: black, gold, lilac and turquoise. Jewels, lilac flowers and sporty numerals featured in mash-up prints on sweaters, coats and tracksuits; these and the bomber jacket with faux fur sleeves made for a street wear style that gives a cheeky wink to the material aspirations and hyper-masculinity of a generic hip-hop culture. Shearling lined denim jackets looked cosy and cool; expect to see appearances on a street style blog near you.

MAN: Agi & Sam

Loud, proud and deliciously eccentric, Agape Mdumulla and Sam Cotton AKA Agi & Sam modelled their collection on the English eccentric extraordinaire of our day, the Marquess of Bath. A walk in the country like you’ve never seen before, brilliantly tailored jackets and coats were reworked in bold cobalt blues, meaty tartans and layered with padded gilets with the flair of a man more than secure in his sexuality. There were bright pops of colour in orange gloves and on shoes, that almost looked like the mud from a more psychedelic, surreal version of our own English countryside. Against the darker tweeds and suiting, these made for a grinning twist on the heritage trend. The only thing missing was the shot gun slung over an arm, though the bloodhound made an appearance; closer inspection of the Paisley print reveals pheasants to be lurking among the foiliage.

The only question is boys (especially when it's still so cold outside) can you wait until next Autumn/Winter?