Margaret Howell’s no frills English sensibility is a staple on the London Collections: Men calendar. Each season Howell transforms her London Wigmore Street boutique into a catwalk and for Autumn/Winter 2015 her take on heritage blended with signature pared-down utilitarian aesthetic. Rollnecks and knitwear were featured under soft tailoring and outerwear, as highlighted by pinstripe suiting and cable-detailed knitwear. Howell favours a relaxed silhouette, with mannish trousers and slouchy jackets that also extend to her womenswear.
James Long’s catwalk presentation proved a challenge when the designer admitted several looks and outerwear didn’t arrive in time and were stuck in customs. His dilemma echoed the toughness of the men’s fashion calendar with factories and suppliers closed over the Christmas period and the pressure fashion houses are under to deliver collections by early January. But Long pulled it together showing decorative streetwear, including puffa jackets, bombers, denim, jersey, juxtaposed with lace. With a soundtrack of Gypsy Woman by Crystal Waters, the show had to go on, and did so remarkably well.
J.W. Anderson’s challenge of mens versus womenswear is by now his resounding trademark and for Autumn/Winter 15 the masculine/feminine divide saw slits down the sides of trousers, exaggerated belt buckles and zip closures and oversized furry coats which could have been passed down by a fashionable grandmother. Perhaps more commercial were the two-tone turtlenecks, degrade effect coats and 60s leather jackets. The show took place on a catwalk filled with purple chips made of rubber, which were Anderson’s reference to George Orwell’s 1984.
Dunhill showed one of London’s strongest collections with creative director John Ray at the helm. Dunhill is a heritage brand usually associated with stuffy suiting and accessories, but this season a new casual look emerged with clothes that were as desirable as they were beautifully-made. Trousers came loose and often rolled up, while knitwear and corduroy were dominant fabric choices. Key looks included salmon-hued pajamas and an alpaca coat.
Gieves & Hawkes focused on contemporary luxury and tailoring featuring monochrome looks with shearlings, a pony-skin topcoat, double-breasted suiting and pretty much everything in black. A chambray shirt added a hint of colour, but there was no white to be seen, rather this was a collection of black and grey tones with injections of berry colours and crocodile in the accessories. Leather sneakers and lug-soled shoes were teamed with sharply cut tailoring with leather gloves and slicked back hair making the look more futurist than heritage. Seeing as Gieves & Hawkes is based at No 1 Savile Row with holding several Royal Warrents, lets hope its customers are futurists also.
Images: Margaret Howell, Gieves & Hawkes, Dunhill