With less than two weeks to go, it’s definitely time to start thinking about London Fashion Week’s dedicated Menswear Day on 22 February.The day itself has been gathering momentum over the last couple of years, and the recent announcement of a dedicated full three days for menswear in London coming up in June, only adds to the sense of occasion and anticipation.
So, what to expect and or look forward to on the 22nd?
Firstly, in a word: capes. Ahead of us at least in terms of timing, Milan, Paris and Florence (in the form of the Pitti trade event) showed men literally shrugging off the traditional sleeved overcoat to leave arms free for whatever they were intended for (which in Italy inevitably involves a lot of gesticulating). Whether in the form of an actual sleeveless cape (Dolce & Gabbana) or as a regular coat draped across the shoulders (Lanvin) the continental men’s catwalks were full of them, as were the streets surrounding the Pitti event, as the celebrated peacock attendees, strode around with overcoats across shoulders, in the manner of cavaliers rushing off to a duel or liaison.
Knitwear as outerwear, often worn over suiting or denim jackets, was another big look on the streets of Florence. I can’t wait to see whether London picks up these particular trends and what the London spin, is, if any. One teasing hint comes from Patrick Grant, whose E.Tautz presentation is always a haute highlight of the day, who lists ‘military cloaks’ amongst the inspirations for his AW2012 collection.
A pre-Fall 2012 look from E.Tautz last season
A certain amount of quirkiness and rebellion is expected in London, often coming from smaller houses and rising designers, and Sibling are the perfect champions for London’s punkish pride. Season after season, the knitwear brand bring their relentless creativity to bear in knitted clothing that always excites and amuses. Having seen glimpses of the AW12 line from Paris, I can’t wait to see in person the fair isle/leopard print sweaters; a genius combo that will surely see a line up of personal orders. MAN, the joint initiative between Topman and Fashion East, is another reliable source to see the sheer energy of London’s menswear scene in action. Last season Shaun Samson, the Old Street-based Southern California emigre had the crowd literally gushing praise as his trademark oversized T-shirts and indigenous American blankets in sunset colours brought a little of his native sunshine to London’s gritty streets.
Elswhere, Lou Dalton always manages to mine a seam of inspiration (literally last season with the miners strike inspired collection) which balances the energy of would-be street led trends with conceptual ideas and craftsmanship of a classic designer.
For the last two seasons, J.W. Anderson has got things off to high-energy very-London start with an early slot on Menswear Day, and glimpses of his cropped flares and skiwear-inspired collection for AW12 suggest the excitement and controversy will continue.
Inevitably, what one looks forward to seeing most of all on Menswear Day is the cavalcade of dressed up men, and women, who parade Somerset House and environs, as street style photographers and fashion students make snapshots into global fashion stories. Nowhere in the world is the assembly quite so diverse; from fierce London club kids to the elite of the mainstream men’s fashion press, from high fashion faces to lads eschewing ‘fashion’ for street and workwear, London has it all and in greater numbers than anywhere else. Like the gathering of tribes at some exotic fair, Menswear Day brings them all out, and whatever your affiliation, you cannot fail but to spot someone or something that inspires you. Whether you attend in person or not, I hope you are as excited by that prospect as I am.