London Fashion Week Men Fall- Winter 2018/2019, held in January was a celebration of Discovery. “Discovery is all about exploration new ideas styles and talent. It’s about diversity inclusion and new voices.” The British Fashion Council Designer Showrooms further promoted the theme showcasing a new venue this season the DiscoveryLAB, an experimental zone for thinkers, makers, explorers and innovators across the landscapes of technology fashion art and performance.
One of the top highlights for the new DiscoveryLAB was a collection presented by TONSURE. A Scandinavian based label founded in 2014 and designed by Malte Flagstad an alumnus of Masion Margiela and Central Saint Martins. Fall 2018 for TONSURE drew on inspiration form 1980’s New York. Far from an up-beat time in NYC, it was one of the city’s notable eras of forging a new identity, during a time of AIDS, true underground creativity, and urban resilience.
The collection was shown in conjunction with a film of manipulated images, a twisted digital view of Midtown Manhattan traffic. The film provided a backdrop, of New York having nothing to do with the 1980’s. What was striking was the film’s focus on the reflective surfaces of the city. It highlighted a number of steely gray hues, cement, taxi yellow, traffic light colors, black and emergency cone orange. These similar hues were the basis of the color story of the collection.
Flagstad describes his collection as minimal and clean with a hint of “darkness”, fabric and texture play a pivotal role.” It’s unclear why Flagstad used this as a collection statement; it seems too easy to simply categorize his Scandinavian based design house into a minimal camp. This collection was far from minimal or dark and what was ‘clean’ was rather clear. Flagstad has an astute sensibility of the interplay of textiles of mélange jersey, Merino wool, fur, patent leather, technical nylon, herringbone, Prince of Wales check and new check patterns. The Woolmark Company supported the collection.
The silhouettes ranged from wonderful tailored pieces in wool and mélange jersey created in collaboration with Lanificio Subalpino to full cut wool trousers in classic suiting textures with wide athletic waistbands, a fresh merger of the modern athletic aesthetic and elevated streetwear. The integration of shine and light throughout the collection was particularly striking. The collection showcased leather in a verity of finishes, playing with reflection and texture. One of the leather pieces that was stand out was a ‘wet look’ leather shirt, with an oversize patch pocket layered on a fitted button down collar shirt. It was paired with Prince of Wales check elastic waist pants. The shirt is a noteworthy item, the finish of the textile seen in many of the higher-end boutique collections in womenswear, this was a successful gender shift or fluid moment, an element of surprise in a men’s collection. Also notable the puffer jackets highlighting the brands ’new plaid’ a patterned mimicking wool textiles in a brushed digital plaid.
What makes this collection right for a London debut is the brand’s understanding of excellent mixed climate outwear, ranging from classic pea coat styles with generously rolled collars and high notches to ‘flight jacket’ inspired shapes in a bright orange hue. Gary Armstrong created the styling of the collection. The well harnessed, ‘strapped in’, ‘ready aesthetic’ has been an on going theme in fashion collections for the past few season it continued in the TONSURE presentation. This statement worked to the ‘darkness’ and realities of the age are we jumping off a cliff, into the unknown? or simply prepared to survive anything. There was a successful eye and skill of layering the pieces and still seeing the clothes.
Flagstad’s TONSURE Fall 2018 was a beautiful collection, a solid debut and a worthwhile discovery during London Fashion Week.
The Museum of Natural History in Kensington was the setting of the COTTWEILER Autumn Winter 18 runway show. The long dark and narrow corridors of mineralogy and gems were the backdrop of a striking and intriguing collection designed by Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty.
COTTWEILER is known for high concept in not only their clothing collections but also in the formulation of a theme and a larger social comment. Fall 2018 emerged from the subterranean lakes of Krizna Jama cave network in Slovenia a dark adventure travel dream for those not afraid of the darkness and the silence of being deep underground. This was rich terrane when creating a collection highlighting phosphorescent colors, organic inspired structures and textures. The collection statement states ‘the tension between natural and synthetic, real and artificial remains central to the COTTWEILER design practice.
The COTWEILER brand is rooted in a new clothing genre, which has an elevated, edgy urban savvy. The brand has a client with an eye for detail and tailored finishes. It’s important to mention the luxury background of both designers Dainty, who worked with Kim Jones and on his collaboration with Umbro and Cottrell spent six years on Savile Row at Ozwald Boateng. There is always much discussion around who the COTTWEILER client is. A challenging question to answer question but not impossible. It would be wrong to group the label in an sportswear camp inspired by athletic wear because it is so much more. There is an aspiration quality but you have to know what you are looking at... spectacular fashion statements such as this season’s three piece nylon ‘ath- luxury’ look in a grey worthy of modern Comte de Montesquieu. Grey was a noteworthy theme for the fall 2018 season as well as in this collection.
Laser-cut leather, Merino wool, distressed nylon, Realtree printed silk and embellished embroidery were the textiles of the collection. Merino wool was pulled and distressed to form base layers and accessories. The standout textile and look was a metallic jacquard ‘ath- luxury’ suit. Winter white wool ensembles also prevailed a real luxury statement for city dwelling fashion clients shopping at NYC’s Opening Ceremony or Primitive London. I don’t think this white commutes outside of black cabs or Uber Select and white appears to be a mainstay of the brands collections. The printed silk pants and lush distressed quartz colored wool turtleneck top had a distinct feeling of ‘in the know modern leisure’
The designers Cottrell and Dainty as well as Niklas Bildstein Zaar completed COTTWEILER’s art direction and styling. The models were harnessed strapped in and fastened in technical climbing gear, ropes and D claps. The tension theme and eye catching juxtaposition was seen in the partnership with the luxury accessory brand Mulberry. The leather bags were colored and texturized in hues of blue, black and phosphorous green. The styling concept was taken a step further with the inclusion of glycerin and sugar gel heavily coating the sides of some of the faces and the hands of the models.
This was an exploration into a concept showcasing ‘elevated ath-luxury’ menswear. It was literally a delve into the dark, the pitch black of the museum setting and a long and wondrous runway where tough, aggressive young men walked with fearless drive directly into the dark to a high volume sound created by Kamixlo & Palmistry. This statement was strong, metaphoric and left the viewer questioning what is fashion anticipating about the eighteenth year of the twenty first century? The COTTWEILER men seem to be in the know.