With some heavy rain and surprise guest appearances (Brooklyn Beckham, Henry Cavill, Nick Grimshaw and FKA Twigs were among those in the front row at some shows), London Collections Men continued until Monday, rounding out the four-day event showcasing some of the industry’s best for the autumn/winter 2016 season ahead. What stood out? That grey and camel are the colours of the season can’t be contested – it appeared in just about every collection – as well as a fusion of sportswear and tailoring, whether it be in the languid silhouette of a coat, or the casual detailing of a suit. Here, we highlight some of the collections to keep an eye on for colder months.
In distinguishing itself from the eclecticism often seen on the runways in London, known as they are as a destination for youthful innovation, historic tailoring house (and global brand) Dunhill opted for an exclusive cocktail presentation at the Mayfair Club. Here, it showcases the fine traditions of English dressing with a full day-to-night, work-to-weekend wardrobe. A highlight was its suiting, with a particular focus on the beauty of the double-breasted blazer, rendered in beautifully tactile navy and grey wools, some with pinstripes and some block-coloured, with a structured, traditionally English rounded shoulder and lightweight lining.
Wouter Baartmans and Amber Siegel of on-the-rise London label Baartmans and Siegel looked across the pond to New York for inspiration this season, tapping into the city’s ‘Great Awakening’ of the industrial era. Channeling their free-spirited nature, the designers took traditional garments of the male wardrobe and freed them of their stiff formality, instead offering a softer, easy-to-wear take on the classics. Wool overcoats featured drawstrings at the waist, cinching the waist for form-fitting comfort, and pinstripe wool trousers were cut slightly wider in the leg and higher in the waist, giving them greater fluidity. Meanwhile, it elevated more casual pieces: down bomber jackets were covered in pinstripe wool cloth, and the same fabric used for lightweight cropped trench coats.
Paul Smith can always be relied upon for bringing some playfulness to fashion week. While he shows his main collection in Paris, the British designer honours his home country by showing an aspect of his broader product offering in London. For autumn/winter 2016, the designer recreated his first shop – which, in 1970, measured three by three metres – wanting to show that inspiration can be found in everything that surrounds us, as it does for Sir Paul Smith. The presentation was fittingly held at contemporary art gallery, where its current group exhibition of British artists has inspired the new collection, particularly the bold colours of John Hoyland. At the event, the designer announced that, due to the overwhelming success of his ‘travel suit’, crafted from a lightweight Merino wool that reacts well to conditions of air travel, he will be releasing it in more colours.
Following her own show earlier on the London Collections schedule, Lou Dalton presented a collaborative capsule collection of outerwear with premium British brand Jaeger. Dalton looked to the brand’s heritage when designing the collection, in particular items worn by Ernest Shackleton and his time for their 1914 Endurance Expedition to Antarctica, combining the functionality of those garments with her signature refined tailoring. Highlights include a series of Merino wool sweaters, as well as balaclavas, gloves and snoods, in a palette of ink blue, charcoal and marsala, while a technologically advanced “thermocool” wool works with the body’s natural thermal capabilities.
Savile Row tailoring house Richard James looked to the past, too, taking inspiration from the bustling 1930s-era London Docks, then the largest port in the world and a heaving hub of commerce. The wardrobes of the “doughty dockers”, a tight-knit, street-savvy band of men from the capitals East End, come through in the collection, in thick wool cable knit turtleneck sweaters, wide-lapelled, double-breasted wool coats, wide-legged trousers, and knitwear featuring chain and rope motifs.
One of the marks of a masterful tailor is the ability to make something technically complex – a suit, for example – appear effortless. Carlo Brandelli, the creative director of Kilgour, showed just what goes into the making of a suit at the brand’s presentation, with several hundred paper patterns sitting alongside the collection, demonstrating the journey from pattern to product. “The idea is a simple one, to show a literal and very direct link between craft and design,” said Brandelli. Of the collection itself, Kilgour’s tailoring was minimal in appearance, with slim-cut wool blazers with flat pockets and hidden buttons, and wool coats cinched at the waist and free of lapels.
Thom Whiddett and Luke Sweeney founded their namesake label, Thom Sweeney, in 2007, and over the past ten years, they’ve established a strong signature aesthetic for easy-to-wear, soft-shouldered suiting that nods to the traditions of British and Italian tailoring but feels innately modern. This season, it developed a winter version of seersucker: a unique wool blend heavier in weight than its summer offering but sharing the same properties with a soft shoulder. Central to the outerwear offering is a tailored pea coat crafted from a Loro Piana wool and cashmere blend in a fitted silhouette. Chunky cable knits and lightweight Merino wool knitwear offers options for layering, while a slim-fit, two-tone, peak lapel wool suit in navy and black completes the collection.
While the collections thus far have been dominated by a predominantly neutral palette – grey and navy are the forerunners when it comes to colour – Turnbull & Asser offered a particularly colourful collection. Blurring the line between formal and informal, the brand showed suits worn as separates so as to enhance the pattern and textile combinations, while its collaboration with Fox Brothers injected pops of colour into lightweight wool blazers, overcoats and bomber jackets, while Merino wool knitwear adds depth to the collection. Particularly exciting was a range of neckties in psychedelic prints, each 140cm2 wool and silk blend piece a wearable piece of art.
Given his work as a textile design consultant, it stands to reason that at Edward Crutchley’s presentation – his first on the schedule at London Collections Men – fabrics were particularly sumptuous. Said to be inspired by the landscape of Yorkshire, where he was born, the designer presented a range of elegantly-cut wool suits and patterned knitwear in a palette of forest green, navy, chocolate brown and off white that was appealing for its youthful spirit.
We track what’s trending on the runways at the biannual British men’s fashion week