Monday, 27 February 2012

Details... Army clip

Junya Watanabe has long been known for his classic clothing with innovative and painstakingly brilliant detailing. The Army clip jacket from last season was one of the real highlights of the collection and sums up his aesthetic wonderfully. I couldn't resist taking a closer look when I spotted it on Menswear Day.

Lou Dalton AW12

Lou Dalton AW12 Feature Button

Having been talked through Lou Dalton's design process and inspirations for AW12 my appetite for the show was certainly whet. In fact, I would say that I was positively starving as I waited for hearty sartorial feast that she'd serve up of Menswear Day. Thankfully, the presentation did not disappoint. The Portico Rooms transported the audience to her reimagined 1940s Britain and we all fell head over Dr Martens boot heel for Lou Dalton's wartime love affair. Each season, Lou Dalton crafts well tailored, rebellious English sportswear for her working class souls. There is always a narrative, from the miners strikes of the 80s to the Russian mafia and Wuthering Heights' Heathcliff, various influences combine that all lend themselves to the continuation of her sartorial fascination with working class heroes. For AW12, Dalton found inspiration in a simple wartime love story. Drawing on Shelagh Delaney's genre revolutionising kitchen sink play, 'A Taste of Honey' and her own childhood spent largely growing up on her Grandmother's farm in Shropshire, the design talent narrated and outfitted her own tale of star crossed love. We were all seduced.

Inspired by the styling and rawness of Tony Richardson's 1961 adaptation of Delaney's play and the aesthetic of the iconic 'My Private Idaho', Dalton began to create this story in her head about a GI falling in love with a land girl and not wanting to go back to war, he goes AWOL and lives a very different life with his new love. "His wardrobe is a mix of her father's country wardrobe and his own military garb, the textures and layers combine to help hide his identity. I was fascinated with this idea of layering," Dalton excitedly blurted out in her studio. The protagonist's style draws on facets of both military and country garments and reflects a begged and borrowed wardrobe assembled to withstand and camouflage him in his new life. A heady cocktail of heavy military cloth mixed with hand knit cables, work wear programmes and Dalton's now signature quilted pieces combine to provide each ensemble with contrasting layers of texture, colour and feel. With this particular collection there is a formal feel to it and she's used special, almost decadent pieces of cloth from Bulmer and Lumb but she wanted there to be a casual feel to it that feeds in to this country aesthetic. Casual silhouettes, washed and distressed chinos and denim further capture the spirit of this cross pollination. Before the tale unfolded in the show space, I nipped backstage to take a few shots as the final adjustments were applied by stylist John McCarty and his team with Dalton watching on, orchestrating the last minute adjustments. I happily snapped away as hats by Bernstock Speirs were played with and then delicately placed, socks by Tabio were pulled up and encased in Dr Martens boots and hair was finished off...

Backstage at the Portico Rooms as Lou Dalton's men were styled for AW12

Hopefully my backstage imagery captures Lou Dalton's story of war torn lovesick soldiers. I've certainly fallen for the collection all all over again. I'm particularly pining for the biker jacket is Harris Tweed. Once again, Dalton has provided a number of new crushes for the season.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Christopher O'Brien AW12

COB AW12 Feature Button

Having posted Christopher O'Brien's 'Inspired... AW12' just yesterday, I wanted to follow up whilst his words and and patchwork images were fresh (well as fresh as they can be over a weekend) in the memory. As we touched upon yesterday, the design talent built on the successes of his acclaimed final MA collection, softening the hard edges and developing his influences. Having studied at Central Saint Martins under the guiding influence of Professor Louise Wilson OBE, his graduate collection of crinkled wardrobe of minimal staples was distinctive yet restrained, almost puritanical. The main point of inspiration was a photo of a trio of refugees cut from the newspaper, drawn to their lived in layers, O'Brien questioned how we wear clothes. "When we put a jacket or coat on it often crinkles the garment under and I just wanted to look at bringing that effect to the top layer where you wouldn't expect it. I took it pretty extreme but as it was my MA collection with no restraints I figured it was a good time to push notions of what a man would wear." For AW12, the designer kept the principles of his MA collection and focused on filling in the details, playing with silhouettes, experimenting with the boundaries of layering, the addition of eight womenswear looks and the sprinkling of colour.

Whilst the spirit of the collection is in tune with ideas of minimalist menswear and traditional tailoring, albeit in a disassociated way, it develops its theme by amalgamating these conventions with styles drawn from elsewhere by exploring the creative potential of inherited shapes, textures and detailing. This season saw a number of traditional staples updated using his crinkled cotton and silk technique and offering a modern take on items including the dress shirt, car coat, postman coat and formal trouser. The pieces are hybrids of tailoring and sportswear which manage to be both familiar yet new and minimal yet complex.  At their wrinkled heart is the abstraction of the silhouette through the manipulation of fabric and layering in a distinctive yet restrained manner. The use of distressed and crinkled fabrics throughout creates individual subtleties, a real sense of life. Delicate and intriguing.

Shortly before contemporarily presenting the collection in a custom built (and hand painted by O'Brien himself - see below) structure at the creative pot that is NEWGEN MEN and Fashion East installations and being a real standout of the day, it was shot by Christopher Fields in and around the designer's family home in Homerton. The resulting look book is perfect Sunday morning viewing so even though I could wax lyrical about the collection long in to the day, I think its is only fair that I shared it with you. Here's the look book interspersed with a few of my own shots from the day including a few details...

Lookbook credits...
Shot by Christopher Fields and assisted by Jorge Ortiz, 
modelled by Alice Neale and Marco Brazic

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Details... Print Peeking

Agi&Sam's very own Sam Cotton allowing one of the duo's colour popping prints to peek out underneath his jacket as he's wildly congratulated post MAN show.

Inspired... Christopher O'Brien AW12

Christopher O’Brien completed both his BA in womenswear and Masters in menswear at Central Saint Martins in London. Since graduating in 2011 he has been working for heritage brand E. Tautz as part of the design team whilst establishing his own eponymous label. O'Brien's crinkled, minimal wardrobe of well tailored staples unveiled as part of his final MA collection might have initially slipped under my blogging radar but it certainly caught the trained retail eye of John Skelton. Once his designs were bought and sold by the forward thinking concept store LN-CC this led to an approach by Fashion East, to appear as part of the hive of talent that is their menswear installations at London Fashion Week. On the Sunday before the madness of Menswear Day, we visited the design talent at his studio in Homerton to see just how his AW12 collection evolved from his accomplished MA...

"With regards to the MA, the main point of inspiration was a photo of some refugees in the paper, I just really liked the different layers they were wearing and it made me think about the way we wear clothes. When we put a jacket or coat on it often crinkles the garment under and I just wanted to look at bringing that effect to the top layer where you wouldn't expect it. I took it pretty extreme but as it was my MA collection with no restraints I figured it was a good time to push notions of what a man would wear."

Inspiration shots that remained from the MA collection.

"In terms of research for this collection, I didn't really add on the principles of my MA collection but instead focused on filling in the details, just changing the silhouettes and experimenting with the boundaries of layering. Working on the MA demands a singular focus so here I branched out. Both Lulu and Beth from Fashion East were really positive about my MA and given that I don't feel as though it is over saturated as it was only available at LN-CC, for AW12 I wanted to return to its themes and push it that bit more. Upon reflection, we felt it might be a bit more commercial for women so we introduced seven to eight womenswear looks. Simple, layered silhouettes."

A selection of found and archive images that inspired the developments for AW12

To help us see through the studio door and offer a real tease in to what AW12 has in store, I snapped away at O'Brien's wall of hand drawn sketches and fabric swatches...


"For me, the process is the honest side and it is great to be able to show it. I've never been previous about my work. As this collection is such a development of the previous one, so it is almost as if I have to talk back through the initial collection which was more a case of finding images, I'm completely random with my research, it is an amalgamation of ideas. I don't pick a theme, it is a just a case of collecting images that I like and it is almost the process of jigsawing them together to make it work somehow. Some might be images that will play no part in the collection, but I like it so it stays up on the mood wall for some reason. Once the images have been collated, I tend to write an overview of what I want the collection to be, an outline list that sketches out the collection. Once the structure is there, I then I move on to drawing before pattern cutting." Christopher O'Brien.

Today, as Christopher O'Brien sits at his kitchen table framed by a backdrop of his wall of inspiration one gets the sense we are the start of something quite special. "Everything has happened more of less at the same time" he confirms as he takes a sip of black coffee before continuing, "We bought the house just after Edie was born and we've been renovating it. Our move in date was the third of January and then it became our studio for AW12."  Sat beside his young family, including the extremely cute Edie, it is impossible not to get the sense that the design talent is at the start of a special journey. A journey I'm excited to document, continuing tomorrow as I post the AW12 look book to complete the chapter for this season.


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