London Collections: Men (Day 2)

Are there no hot guy models in London this season, or are designers saying something profound about the Occupy movement? Either way, it’s interesting to note how many of them are obscuring their boys’ faces. First it was Martine Rose on Friday, putting what appeared to be stockings over their heads, then on Saturday, day two of the London men’s collections, rebel knitters Sibling showed balaclavas. Inspired by last autumn’s riots, the collection was a playful examination of the aesthetics of urban gladiators. With rats, skulls and crossbones incorporated into pullovers and toile-de-joie prints depicting scenes of urban decay, the authenticity of designers co-opting urban culture was wittily questioned.

Then it was on to the E Tautz show, which also did not disappoint. Inspired by early 20th-century Estonian travel writer Wilfred Thesiger, there were safari separates in the public school colors of navy, clover and gold. Preppy double-breasted short suits were paired with desert shoes while sweeping capes lent a dashingly military air.

At Katie Eary, we were presented with eye-popping, more-is-more, neo-Versace, early-90s baroque prints. Unapologetically street and styled in clashing color combinations, it was the second show of the week, after Topman, to be accessorized with skateboards. Although styled for maximum impact, in isolation these pieces were surprisingly wearable. It’s great to see a resolutely experimental young Londoner producing work that’ll get the buyers buying.

If it’s print and it’s knitwear, it must be Jonathan Saunders. At least, it must be when it’s done as well as this. Recalling Bowie at his most Germanic, Saunders’ love of geometrics was evident. There were narrow trench coats and T-shirts in a honeycomb print of waspy ombre combinations of yellow and black, while a particularly striking suit was emblazoned with black and blue diamonds. The overall feeling was sharp and clean-cut, a New Wave rock star studying computer programming maybe?

Saunders wasn’t the only mathlete. James Long’s trademark artisanal knits were covered in jagged circuit board shapes while his normally luxe palette was rendered monochrome. The silhouettes were lean and unsparing. Sleeves were hacked off of jackets, while restrained Nehru collars gave the only hint of the global-citizen aesthetic Long normally works in. It was below the waistline, however, that the austerity tipped into perversity, with voluminous high-waisted leather shorts. All said, kinky beat out geeky.

Also on Saturday was Matthew Miller, definitely a name to watch. A wryly amusing Northerner, Miller took inspiration from CCTV imaging to create a concise, harshly beautiful collection. Always fond of a bit of hardware, this time Miller’s suiting was embellished with ropes and clasps. Fashion to take a hike in—now there’s a novel thought.

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