A Londoner I know once said: “You can wear whatever you like in London…somebody will think you’re cool.”

Like the city itself, fashion here is rooted in history, yet always moving forward, often rallying against the very establishment it seeks to be part of. Menswear, featured on the final day at London Fashion Week, in all its glorious manifestations, exemplified the seemingly contradictory elements of London fashion, running the gamut of classic suiting with an eye toward the future (Tim Soar), to rebellious streetwear which gave a nod to a violent past (Komakino):

The spa-like ambience before the Komakino show was sure to mellow out any guests harried from their morning Tube travels. The tempo lifted as the models hit the runway, marching purposefully in keeping with the military theme, with nary a pause for photographers. Komakino lived up to its name with Japanese-style streetwear with a dark, edgy attitude. Head coverings that conjured up flashes of Hannibal Lecter mixed with images on bomber jackets of too-young soldiers going off to war. Army boots both short and tall completed the militaristic outlook.

Styling was moody, yet unthreatening, due to a sense of wearability: for the fashion follower who disagrees that growing up means learning how to tie a necktie. The theme here is struggle, the fight to stay true to oneself in the face of pressure to conform to the suit- wearing masses.

At the Fashion East Installations, Gosha Rubchinskiy told the story of new Russian youth through his line of relaxed knits and sportswear that draw inspiration from sports teams and pay homage to teenagers growing up in a new society: “My hero is a boy growing up in Russia,” said the designer, “I mix feelings from my younger years with the feelings of a teenager in the New Russia. My designs are all about being a boy in a new country.”

Mattew Miller had the air of an enfant terrible, laughing and joking with friends, refusing to take any of it too seriously. He turned the presentation on its head with a gaggle of models acting as spectators who appeared to ogle their guests as much as the other way around. On his collection, Miller quipped excitedly: “It’s for men who never want to grow up; no rite of passage into manhood anymore. Man-boys who are still kids; images of childhood, kids running around. It’s about wearing your heart on your sleeve…a new subculture.”

Florian Man presented a masculine jewelry line which allows men to explore all facets of their personality, not be forced to choose between being macho or metro…he can be both. The polished cow horn is a primary element in the Animalia collection, representing potency and aggression in both the human and animal male, “for the bullfighting torero in every man”.

Tim Soar’s collection Reassembly of Past Things celebrated classic English beauty with a modern twist. The non-descript catwalk space lined with metal folding chairs had the air of a Legion hall, lending itself to the no-nonsense masculinity of the affair. Tailored neutrals, camel cashmere sweaters, argyle in shades of grey paired with faded blue jeans, a classic black suit with a hit of shocking blue in a turtleneck, and a matching wig. Black and pin-striped felt wool hats which at first felt like fedoras actually gave a nod to English weather with a rain hat contour, the shape you see matched with a bright yellow mackintosh on Paddington Bear. Pin stripes, a “petrol blue” velvet jacket, brogues, and fitted jackets layered over long, loose white silk shirts. As the designer explains: “The overall mood is late Victorian/early Edwardian, reflected in a disco mirror ball.”

Inspired by the city itself, Omar Kashoura staged his jovial, relaxed show at Bedford & Strand, a French bistro-style bar where guests enjoyed drinks while taking in looks on sauntering models. The sleek collection eschewed collars, going instead for an uber-urban feel, which employed a zipper rather than buttons on a dress shirt with night-time sheen. Modern stone wash and high-waisted wool pleated trousers appeared alongside a giant satchel, giving a nod to the modern man on the go – one who can throw his bag over his shoulder and avoid catching a cinched pant leg in a bike chain. Elegant elements like silk scarves and a lilac tie-dye pattern appeared throughout in an exquisite silk shirt, a white denim trouser, and a pocket square. Dark nylon-esque metallic jackets gathered by string at the dropped waist gave further protection against the city’s elements, with enough shine to carry the wearer through to evening.

James Small’s debut showcase at the Somerset House Vaults was yet another example of the old English atmosphere that makes LFW special. Like an old prison, the underground space provided a macabre beauty. Once again combining classic elements of formal menswear with modern features, Small paired stark white bubble jackets and silver metallics with body-conscious tailored pants, oversized woolen hats with classic belted trench coats. The feeling was fitted yet relaxed, young and masculine. Neutrals dominated, especially black, white, and charcoal, with monochromatic looks such as a black vest over a black oxford shirt.

“I wanted to involve traditional elements of tailoring, like the shawl collar, alongside workwear and combine and contrast their materials,” Small said.


Photos courtesy of Laura Connell.

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