London Collections Men: day one

The inaugural three-day showcase is back and bigger than ever

AFTER A stellar debut last summer, London Collections: Men kicked off in style yesterday with David Cameron officially opening the festivities with a reception at Downing Street.

This year’s event will showcase over 60 of the capital’s best menswear designers, cementing the capital’s position as a key player in the international menswear world.

Scottish born designer Lou Dalton was perfect to open the event. She continues to be one of the most promising emerging designers on the schedule owed, in part, to her ability to fuse traditional tailoring and wearability with artistic flair and a nod to the new – in that respect, her latest collection was business as usual. This season she took inspiration from the North Sea oil boom and the rugged beauty of the Northern Isles, sending models down the runway in classic utilitarian oversized outerwear. Naturally, it wasn’t all traditional. As the collection progressed, skinny tartan trousers, oilskins and proofed technical fabrics were thrown in for good measure. The collection also showcased the designer’s latest collaboration with British boot makers Grenson. This season she created a modern take on the label’s iconic “Monkey Boot”, transforming it into a bold, workwear style that will no doubt go down well with retailers like Harvey Nichols and Mr Porter, whose buyers were positioned front and centre, pens at the ready.

Next up was Bally. The Swiss label took over Bedford Square for the morning, filling it with a big tent full of explorer gear to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first Everest ascent. The event marked the first of many celebrations to mark the time when Tenzing Norgay took the trip to Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hilary, wearing a pair of Bally Reindeer Himalaya boots. Guests including Dominic Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch tucked into bacon buttys and cups of tea while viewing the collection.

If there’s ever a brand that can fall victim to being gimmicky, it’s Topman but this season the label outdid itself and the show took guests on a sartorial adventure. Like Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton last winter, it was all about travel. Tibetan-print boiled wool pea coats made a welcomed appearance alongside oversized cropped parkas and explorer knits in rich orange and warm red. Functionality was key too, particularly on accessories. All of the models sported oversized rucksacks that came complete with leather hip flask, iPad and compass holders.

Lee Roach was another highlight. For autumn, the designer continued his penchant for minimalism and sobriety. The cuts were clean and the colour palette stark, rarely deviating from monochromatic shades. Fabrics were where he really experimented, presenting knitwear for the first time by teaming cashmere sweaters with angular jackets.

The highlight of the day was the latest offering from design duo Agape Mdumulla and Sam Cotton of Agi & Sam. The pair, who showed as a part of the Topshop and Fashion East menswear platform MAN, went all English gentleman, but in a modern way. Tweed trousers came styled with clashing printed trousers and tailored blazers were updated with puffa jacket-style sleeves.

If yesterday is anything to go by, this is going to be another stellar week.