BOYS will be girls and girls will be boys - that’s the message that could easily be read from fashion right now: JW Anderson sending out his model men in halter neck lace tops and Martine Rose sending out hers be-wigged and in frilly little shorts and blouses, Alexander McQueen presenting dramatic Dandies smothered in lace at the London Collections: Men showcase this week. Meanwhile, women have been dressing androgynously, pragmatically and minimalist for the past two seasons: Celine-sleek, everything wearable and borrowed from the men in their lives - we’re looking at you No 21, Nicole Farhi, Trussardi, Chloe, Vanessa Bruno, Dries Van Noten and Stella McCartney (for pinstripes and flannels shirts, plaids and oversized tailoring). And the list goes on. Which illustrates that the relationship between menswear and womenswear collections is, as you might imagine, inextricable - not to mention important when it comes to fashion forecasting.
Remember Prada’s menswear collection last January? It was surprisingly simple - devoid of over-complicated design to confuse or challenge potential wearers. It was straightforward, functional and about being wearable clothes - which is precisely what Miuccia Prada had pointed out backstage at the time. Then came the womenswear collection back in February - and while subverted in its sassy Hitchcockiness, it was by all accounts simple in the sense that it was wearable: dresses layered over little tops; jackets draped over more tight dresses or pencil skirts. There were no Japanese-daisy-fur hybrids - as per spring/summer 2013 - at play here. Instead we were seeing the fruition of a clue that had been planted back amid that menswear collection: menswear can be a very good precursor when it comes to what we can expect at the upcoming womenswear shows. Now that’s gold in fashion.
“What most designers are doing now is creating an on-going dialogue, so it’s a continued story that threads through and links both menswear and womenswear, there are definite parallels between the two and why wouldn’t there be? It’s the same hand,” points out Vogue fashion features director Sarah Harris. We are, after all, only two and a half months away from the womenswear shows and a collection doesn’t build itself over night - fabrics have to be bought and there is a planning process involved.
“They do inform one another,” noted Jonathan Saunders at his menswear exhibition this week, though was keen to point out that for him personally, “It’s too early to say.” Meanwhile, popping into the Christopher Kane menswear presentation and what we were seeing here - all digital vector prints made into motifs of faces - was an extension, or perhaps more aptly, a morphing of the Frankenstein idea we saw in his womenswear spring/summer 2013 collection. There’s a connection of course, it just doesn’t always necessarily point to the next next collection.
“It’s more about designing and having a voice and a vision than deciding what box to put your work in. I love to design it all,” offers James Long, who started out in menswear and by popular demand found himself turning his attention to womenswear (JW Anderson, too, found himself in a similar predicament).
But if we go back to our original train of thought, the standard Savile Row classics aside, then what does the outlook for spring/summer 2014 womenswear suggest?
For one thing, there’s no getting away from street and skatewear - everyone went urban, from Katie Eary and her skateboard-carrying dudes to James Long’s neon futuristic variations and Shaun Samson’s sheer-clad and track-suited boys. There’s a distinct move towards a baggy short, wide-legs that could be skirts even - at Alexander McQueen(where lace and florals set a feminine and fanciful tone entirely in-keeping with our girl-boy point), E Tautz, James Long again, Christopher Shannonand MAN.
Bombers are very much here to stay and almost every menswear designer included them in their show: Richard Nicoll, Jonathan Saunders, YMCand Christopher Raeburn to name but just a few. And if it wasn’t a bomber, it was a sweatshirt.
Bags are where it’s at for boys - yes, really. AtBurberry, ensembles in painterly palettes were worn with scrunched clutch bags, while we had seen little box bags over at JW Anderson earlier in the week. Pockets just won’t do anymore.
Eveningwear is seriously luxe and out to rival our own wardrobes: satin espadrilles in scarlet at E Tautz and floral jacquard blazers at Tom Ford in jewel, shimmering shades and a dreamy decadence at Alexander McQueen.
And where our own wardrobes went stark, you’ll find those floral badges of femininity hiding among the menswear collections in all their ditzy, rose-petal and botanical print formations: everywhere fromRag & Bone and Burberry (both of whom returned to London for menswear especially this season), toAgi & Sam, Christopher Shannon and Topman Design - where blooms embroidered yolks of silky shorts for Western appeal. The Stetson is optional.
Will these trends carry on through to Milan and Paris? There’s only one way to find out. In the meantime, click through our gallery here for our favourite moments from London Collections: Men.