Patrick Michael Hughes Men's Fashion Editor
The convergence of Donna Tartt’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize winning novel 'The Goldenfinch' a first person account of a terrorist survivor Theo Decker’s lost soul in ‘Las Vegas, the edge of the desert and the edge of reality’ with American architect Robert Venturi’s 'Learning from Las Vegas' 1972. A seminal Post- Modernist requisite reading for many in the field of design praises the ‘flash and pop’ of the Las Vegas strip and its high regard for imagery over the then prevalent orthodoxy of design and architecture as ‘machinery for living’ is where Liam Hodges began his concept for Spring 2019 London Fashion Week Men’s collection.
Hodges’ states that ‘Venturi couldn’t have foreseen how fifty years on, the landscape and architecture of Las Vegas would look to Millennial’s and Gen Z; more like everyday than anywhere else outside of a computer game’ …”the hyper real and surface texture”. Hyper reality is a concern for the designer and he sees it as an ongoing issue “everyone I know is worried about the future, no one I know wants to be ordinary. We’re always competing against this hyper-real versions of ourselves.” This was the post-millennial dread that informs Hodges’ riffs on coming of age themes. ‘Las Vegas’ stated Hodges. “is the dystopia that’s real but as made-up as the rest”… ‘a land of "extra everything". For a generation who feel extra everything is their right.’
Collection looks were centered on a specific very youthful male, dressed in “outdoorsy but not easy-wear slick trash”. What was seen? Leopard prints on cardigans, waistcoats and full-cut knee grazing shorts. Flame motifs with everything form socks to arm tattoos and a printed t-shirt logo with ‘Lost Found’. ’Logomania’ a popular trend for the past few fashion seasons and currently at a fever pitch during the London shows was on hand here. What’s the message? ‘Nowhere’, ‘One Way’, ‘Broke Money’, ‘Crapped Out’ and ‘Alone Together’ inspired by the nuclear testing museum. The message connected to 'The Goldfinch' novel, reads, “I’ll shave my head and I guess and get a tattoo".
Hibiscus, prints IRK spotted in the Fall 2018 men’s collections in New York, continues as a trend in Hodges’ Spring 2019 in the form of ribbed knit collar and short sleeve edged details in square cotton Hawaiian shirt silhouettes. The look is layered in contrasting prints of red, white, blue and black. Hawaiian shirt looks were a consistent form in flame detail shirts in red, blue and black paneled denim and cotton shirts. Paneling was a strong theme in plaid and big check red and black pajama ensemble styles, paired with piped track jackets and striped knit polo shirts in black, red, green brown and white.
A humorous and the fun in the collection was seen in the pairing of running shorts with cowboy boots not only following through with surface design and west but also a bit of ‘young hustler’ narrative, a timely discourse during June's Pride Month when all worker’s and people’s rights are in the conversation. 'The Mindblower' FILA’s mid-nineties chunky running shoe a brand he has collaborated with was also a highlight. ‘Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas’ seemed to find a home in this collection as well in the form of gold centurion printed chest plates on t-shits and hoodies. Hyper-real American gluttony chain restaurants received a styling nod in the form a trashy plastic lobster bib. In addition there was popping and colorfully bold eyewear was created by Ace & Tate.
What’s interesting about this collection are the complex ‘adjacencies’ (in the architectural sense) of texture, color and silhouette in unexpected ways. The strongest pieces were the striped and leopard knits, paneled plaid pants and the clever use of desert camouflage, sand a safari colors were a strong trend during the London season.
As a fashion and style historian, men’s fashion editor working for a Paris based magazine, reporting a British fashion designer’s collection conceptualized through the lens of American literary fiction and American architectural design theory… the conclusion is this collection did have meat on its bones. The was a balance of exceeding accessible and fashion forward items any intelligent savvy retailer would write orders for. What was also intelligent was the casting of the models ethnic diversity was on point conveying and visualizing the generational shift. What stood out was the age of some of the models, dewy teenage minors looking unsure seeking and needing Mr. Hodges' assurance backstage at the end of the end of the runway presentation …”I told you would be great”…