Despite there being a host of brilliant shows and presentations on the schedule, today belonged undoubtedly to Burberry Prorsum, as the event marked the first menswear show to be held by the brand in London after over ten years in Milan. Guests filed down a ‘country lane’ in Kensington Gardens – this was a menswear show, high heels were not considered in the planning – to a paddock where we were acoustically serenaded as we waited. Once we’d found our spots in the covered show space, Christopher Bailey’s latest menswear offering rolled out in front of a crowd that included LC:M ambassador Dermot O’Leary, Douglas Booth and Hugh Dancy (there was a heart-stopping moment when it looked like Taylor Swift was sitting on the Frow, but alas it was just Suki Waterhouse in sunglasses). The collection itself sat comfortably within the Bailey/Burberry canon – smart separates like the fitted knits with herb chopper necklines, well-cut tailoring, and of course a trench or two. But what made this season ‘this season’ for Burberry were the colours – bright blues, reds, yellows – and the spots that started on a monochrome shirt and ran across various scarves, as well as the several sheer vests worn over shirts.
This was another collection of Bailey’s highly covetable, extremely wearable pieces that will surely fly out of his bosses’ hands faster than the post-show champagne did. Welcome home, Burberry!
There was lots to see, and to love, at the Fashion East Menswear Installation this morning, with no less than seven designers on the roster. Kit Neale’s colour explosion was contained within a side room, which perhaps should have had a warning on the door – ‘Do not enter with hangover!’ Marques’ Almeida’s pieces included a cute patchwork denim outfit in a camo pattern and there was a chance to see Craig Green’s huge and slightly scary plywood sculptures, carried by the models who walked in his MAN show, up close. The highlight for me, however, was undoubtedly Joseph Turvey’s beautiful collection, featuring brightly coloured flower panel prints that popped against white shorts, trousers and jackets. Mr. Turvey is one to watch for sure.
Christopher Raeburn took as inspiration for his spring/summer collection, according to the show notes, ‘the stoic men of World War Two’s Long Range Desert Group’ – troops who spent long periods of time, days and nights, in desert environments. Of course, therefore, his collection featured the sandy tones you might expect, but also beautiful prints in blues and greys and a salmon pink on a parka, a jacket and shorts. The colour palette moved through a ‘Desert Storm’ mix of green and camo to a series of bright electric blue, quilted pieces and cobalt-blue outerwear, finishing with a high fashion desert survival outfit – a light brown poncho coat covering an enormous backpack, plus a blue cap with neck-shading flap. The theme was fun, but in here as usual was a lot of really terrific outerwear for everyday living, not just desert survival. Which is lucky, given the decidedly un-desert British summertime conditions.
Nobody can accuse Patrick Grant, the designer behind E. Tautz, of phoning it in with regards to the day job because of his role as a judge on The Great British Sewing Bee. Today’s collection was interesting, eye-catching, and desirable, with a big enough element of ‘Eh?!’ to give everyone something to talk about afterwards. The show opened with a lime green, metallic tuxedo jacket, worn with black silk shorts and a black, almost Amish-looking hat (oh, and ankle socks – there it is again, people, ankle socks for boys is a bona fide TREND). There were plenty more silk offerings – more shorts, trousers, jackets – and there was what felt almost like a graduation theme to some long silk dresses, for want of a better word, that were cut like graduation gowns. Black overcoats with Rorschach-like prints in red and green were eye-catching, but the pieces that will surely make many a wish list were the oversized black T-shirts with what looked like a mirrored bird print across the front. Smart, seductive and different, busy sewing bee Mr. Grant did good.
What better way to round off the shows than with the very British thing that is the garden party. The lovely people at mrporter.com threw a smashing do at the end of the day to showcase their latest exclusives in celebration of London Collections: Men. This season, they commissioned pieces from JW Anderson, Christopher Raeburn and Agi & Sam, and unveiled them under a tangle of vines in the garden of The In & Out Club in St. James’s Square. Guests sipped on gin-based cocktails and munched (and munched and munched) on canapés to the sound of a live band as they took in the various designers’ pieces: T-shirts and a scissor-patterned knit from Anderson; a variety of bomber jackets from Raeburn; and a printed shirt and T-shirt, plus a houndstooth blazer from Agi & Sam. A trip to the gelato stand parked by the door on the way out was the perfect end to a brilliant, and busy, few days.