In London’s menswear scene, women lead

11.06.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

This season women were behind the most impactful designs at London Fashion Week Men’s. Such a reputation isn’t new: a fresh generation of women designers have been reshaping the London menswear scene for some seasons. In offering a streetwear, high fashion hybrid that is both romantic and wearable these designers set a precedent for a different kind of maleness. And beyond the clothes, these women have rooted their designs in a sense of community. They offer new menswear tribes that discard archaic notions of masculinity and propose a more complex and engaging modern man. Twin spotlights on the women shaping the London menswear scene.

Bianca Saunders

Bianca Saunders SS19 had everybody talking. This season the designer focussed her attention around the theme ‘Gestures’, exploring poses and body language. Her clothes played with the idea of awkwardness in your own clothes, with in-built creases reflecting the process of wearing in and becoming familiar with your clothes. Using materials such as nylon and cotton the silhouettes were tight and intimate, the tension between the known and the awkward at play here too. This was no doubt a pivotal collection for Saunders but the success was expected too, given the hype the Kingston and Royal College of Art graduate has been garnering since she first showed at Graduate Fashion Week in 2015 . Her exploration of masculine identity, inspired by London and her West-Indian heritage, is necessary and relevant.

Bianca Saunders SS19

Martine Rose

Martine Rose has been revered for her menswear designs since she began in 2007. Her concise vision marries the power of streetwear and logo mania with expert tailoring, the result was to create an aesthetic based on the power of family and clan. There’s not one explicit Martine Rose look but instead a recognisable signature: exaggerated silhouettes, structured tailoring, perfectly off-kilter styling. The everyday twisted just enough to take you by surprise. The sense of community has also been fostered by Rose through the use of off-catwalk shows. These include a market in Tottenham and this season, a catwalk along a street in Camden, complete with overexcited neighbours taking pictures from their front yards. The result: a clear connection between fashion as a medium and fashion as the clothes that people wear in everyday life, without compromising on beauty, romance or vision.

Bethany Williams

Welsh designer Bethany Williams brings activism and community to the heart of her designs. Collections are based around a zero-waste approach, with sustainable fabrics created in collaboration with partners including Tesco and the San Patrignano drug rehabilitation community in Italy. She also works with TIH modelling agency, a platform which supports young people in London affected by homelessness. In short, her approach is near unparalleled in the London fashion industry – and she’s only just getting started. As Bethany told Twin: “It always starts with the charity or community that I am working with, then it goes to the waste materials that I want to use, then it goes to the fabric and then from the fabric I work out the form: it is initially inspired by the charity I choose to work with from the start.”

Bethany Williams

Grace Wales Bonner

Wales Bonner didn’t show at LFWM this season but her impact on the menswear scene is evident nonetheless. The winner of the 2016 LVMH Prize first made waves with her first collection “Afrique” in 2014 where she was awarded the L’Oréal Professional Talent Award. In this rapid rise to fashion’s heights, Wales Bonner’s vision has always been clear. Her collections draw inspiration both from contemporary life and works by writers such as James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison and Marlon Riggs. Her romantic, 70’s-esque silhouettes are richly rendered with beautiful use of fabric and colour. Her intimate and considered approach has also been reflected in her approach to shows, where historically the designer has opted for smaller, chair-less presentations, shown to perfect soundtracks and accompanied by reading lists to keep editors on their toes.

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Astrid Andersen

Having graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2010, Astrid Andersen quickly rose through the fashion ranks. She was a member of Fashion East and was awarded NEWGEN sponsorship, developing her idiosyncratic signature that marries sportswear and luxury. In doing so Andersen set a dynamic precedent for menswear in which boundaries are blurred and style is freely interpreted.

Paria Farzaneh

A relatively new addition to the London menswear scene, Paria Farzaneh is a Yorkshire-born, London-based Iranian designer whose collections are inspired by her heritage. Designs offer a combination of Iranian materials and silhouettes threaded through contemporary London style. The result is streetwear printed with traditional patterns, t-shirts and polo shirts printed with ‘Iran’ and adorned with textiles as well as classic suit tailoring. Addressing mis-representation of the Middle East and specifically Iran in the West Farzaneh offers a modern and relevant vision for maleness. A distinct aesthetic which celebrates unique identity and fuses traditional lad culture with delicacy and ornate detail.

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