It might have been Benedict Cumberbatch sipping brandy as he sauntered down the catwalk. Or a triumphant Richard James celebrating his debut catwalk show. Maybe it was the sight of Jon Hamm posing with a cocktail at the Mr Porter party as Alexa Chung rocked the decks behind him. There are plenty of contenders for the most memorable moment from last weekend’s inaugural men’s fashion week – what is beyond doubt is that London Collections: Men showed exactly why British menswear is still at the forefront of the fashion world.
Hackett set the scene early on with a Gatsby-inspired collection, showcasing the best of classic chic. Cream suits with peaked lapels were joined on the catwalk by vintage grey checks and seersucker blazers reminiscent of the 1920s man about town. The show was wrapped up with a troupe of models wearing bowler caps and carrying black umbrellas – a reminder that going to work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look sharp. Knitwear was another mainstay of the Hackett collection, with brown patterns worn under paler suits. For the more adventurous, print trousers continued their crossover from the women’s catwalks, with paisley designs making an appearance.
The classic 20s theme ran through many of the 60 shows, which were held over three days. Savile Row stalwart Richard James – whose debut show was attended by the likes of Elton John and rapper Tinie Tempah – held one of the last shows of the weekend in the opulent surroundings of The Gallery on Conduit Street. The chandeliers, though, were outshone by the glittering loafers paired with the spring/summer 2013 range of linen suits, coming in dandyish shades of baby blue and pink. Grey check was present once again, with shock-blue velvet jackets also prominent.
For the sartorially forward-thinking, James showed off a range of short suits – hopefully next year we’ll get some sun to wear them in.
Ultra-sharp menswear tailor Spencer Hart stuck to its own brand of classic with a range of suits celebrating youth culture and the enduring appeal of 60s Hollywood. The range – preceded by a group of modern dancers – was notable for an emphasis on mismatched trousers and blazers. Oversized pockets abounded and trousers that finish at the ankle, paired with loafers, were mainstays. The show was rounded off by Cumberbatch’s cameo, with the Sherlock Holmes star being escorted down the aisle by a towering model as he necked his glass of brandy.
There were a host of more casual brands on display, with Tinie Tempah showing his support for Christopher Raeburn, a designer he has a long-standing admiration for. The Raeburn show started with a rather baffling video that seemed to liken the brand’s finely crafted toggles and zips to the plumage of an owl, but picked up with a tour de force show of his trademark rugged outdoors wear.
The weekend stayed in full swing long after the shows had packed up, with celebrity-packed after parties lasting long into the night. Mr Porter’s Friday night bash was a veritable who’s who of the fashion world, with Alexa Chung DJing to the likes of David Gandy and Mad Men star Jon Hamm.
British Fashion Council chief executive Caroline Rush says she’s already working on next year’s event. On the strength of this, a year will be an awfully long time to wait.