David Cameron hosts reception to celebrate opening of three-day event featuring more than 60 shows by top designers
David Cameron’s fashion credentials were under the greatest scrutiny of his career on Monday evening when the prime minister hosted a reception to celebrate the opening of London men’s fashion week.
Following in the well-heeled footsteps of Prince Charles, who hosted an evening to launch the inaugural London Collections: Men at St James’s Palace last June, Cameron welcomed designers, magazine editors and store buyers to Downing Street.
Cameron offered a breakdown of his outfit – a Richard James suit, Oliver Sweeney shoes and M&S pants – before confessing: “I know nothing about fashion. When I go shopping, my wife doesn’t let me look around. I am put into the changing room and passed things.”
He spoke of the country’s ability to produce the best designers and how the fashion industry was a huge opportunity for the UK economy.
“Fashion is not just some sort of accessory, you [the fashion industry] are at the heart of selling more, creating more … Go for it!”
Dylan Jones, GQ editor and chairman of London Collections: Men, said: “From Savile Row to Shoreditch, from Bond Street to Brick Lane, British menswear has never been more dynamic or indeed more successful.”
Staged over the course of three days, the event features more than 60 shows and presentations, which will set the tone for the autumn/winter 2013 menswear season. Influential collections by the likes of Alexander McQueen, Jonathan Saunders and Tom Ford will be shown to the press and buyers from across the globe.
Topman Design, which has previously put super short shorts, man-clutches and crop tops on the catwalk, was one of Monday’s biggest draws.
The first outfit on to the catwalk summed up the label’s key message for next autumn: mixing sporty outerwear, such as parkas, with suiting. Playing with shape and proportion was emphasised through the styling, so cropped fur trimmed coats fell short over suit jackets while trousers, tucked into thick wool hiking socks and boots, had extra volume through the leg.
Gordon Richardson, Topman Design’s creative director, explained that “an early gentleman explorer” was central to this look for next autumn. “He has come into contact with other cultures, such as those of Tibet or India, and then absorbed those cultures into his own style,” he said .
Certainly the appearance of giant backpacks, which featured compasses and hip flasks swinging off their straps, ticked the explorer box.
The colour palette warmed up as the show progressed to include spicy oranges and reds while Tibetan prints featured on boiled wool pea coats. Lurex gold thread ran through knitwear, socks were worn with sandals while a burgundy winter suit of blazer and shorts featured a kilt-style skirt front.
The parkas, especially in the bold splashy colours with sporty drawstrings, look set to be a big hit while the quality of the tailoring, including single-breasted brocade silk jackets, underlines the British high street’s skill at creating good looking clothes at competitive prices.
Royal College of Art graduate Lou Dalton, who sells well at Liberty, showed off her signature fusion of tailoring with sporty flourishes in a tight collection that felt both rugged and slick. Suit jackets came in thick Shetland wool but featured pocket flaps or panels in contrast tech fabrics. Tartan trousers and slabs of rich green added bite.
Newcomer Lee Roach, a Central Saint Martins graduate who set up his business in 2010, is the capital’s new king of minimalism. Roach strips away all flounce and frippery to produce a lean aesthetic where jackets come with buckle fastenings and the biggest statement is a strip of silver on the sleeve of a jumper or the ankle of a trouser. For autumn/winter, he introduced super fine Scottish cashmere.
Agi&Sam’s latest collection, inspired by the Marquess of Bath, featured cobalt coats, gold print trousers and colourful galoshes. Known for lively prints, this time paisleys featuring badges, foxes and pheasants, there were also jolly knickerbockers, body-warmer-style vests and a swish double-breasted navy suit jacket with yellow sleeves.