The debut collection of Central Saint Martins menswear graduate Luke Edward Hall tells the story of Keats' Endymion – a poem about a shepherd who falls in love with the moon. The classic tailoring, trim blazers, and sophisticated English styling might tempt a description of the collection as straightforwardly dapper, but the idiosyncratic nature of Hall's characters are revealed with subtlety through the details – nuances created through lighthearted prints, bored facial expressions and wicker crowns. With his distinctively quirky English countryside aesthetic and passion for narrative-inspiring antiques, the London-based designer creates a world that lies somewhere at the intersection of our actual, old-world past and an imagined, fantastical present. Far beyond dusty, old-fashioned dandies, it is a world of eccentric, young aristocrats whom pass the time at their derelict mansions by reading poetry, idly partying, and listening to Grizzly Bear.
This collection is but one extension of the Hall’s creative interests as a designer, having also made stage outfits for Patrick Wolf and last year launching Fox and Flyte, an online concept store with a similar aesthetic basis to his label, along with two of his best friends who share his obsession with gentility and all things antiquarian.
Dazed Digital: In the description of Fox and Flyte's ethos you quote the legendary 1930s Savoy Cocktail Book saying, "let’s celebrate a time of supreme gentility and extraordinary fun." To what extent does this ethos carry over to your menswear label?
Luke Edward Hall: We loved this quote when we stumbled across it, and it's a concept that is at the very heart of Fox and Flyte. When we started with the website, we were very much into Evelyn Waugh and reading about the interwar period. It's such a fascinating era – I love the idea of all those parties, parties where everyone would be dressed up properly, the gentlemen would look so elegant and fantastic, but the parties themselves would be the most raucous of affairs. A good balance, I think. The 'look' of my label is really a marriage of the Fox and Flyte aesthetic: the sophistication, the gentility and the humour, with another concept that is a whole lot more youthful, playful, and wild.
DD: The imagery on your website evokes the English countryside, elegant stately homes and history, books and dusty libraries. How would you describe your aesthetic?
Luke Edward Hall: I'd never want to be stuck in the past, but I'm absolutely captivated by history, heritage, the countryside, amazing old architecture, the things in life that are beautiful to me. I want to tell stories with my work. My personal aesthetic is a little more boyish than Fox and Flyte's, a little more wild, and a little more Pagan! When you look at my collection, there are smart, grown-up elements, what with the shirting, blazers and peacoats, but the fun comes through with the colour palette, the crowns, the prints, and the styling. It's a line that I enjoy treading. I'm not a gentleman's tailor, and I don't really see myself as a full-blown fashion designer either. Perhaps I'm somewhere in the middle – I really like the idea of a man being able to look dapper, but youthful and fun at the same time.
DD: Who is the well dressed, exhausted, and yet bored-looking character being depicted in the lookbook for this collection?
Luke Edward Hall: I came up with a sort of humorous backstory for the muse who inspired this collection. He is the eccentric son of a Duke, who grew up in a crumbling Jacobean manor house, constantly at rowdy dinners and parties. He became tired and bored of his somewhat meaningless life and escaped to the Cornish coast where he transformed himself into a free-willed poet and forager, living off the land alongside gypsies and seabirds. I think that little tale sums up my design process rather well.
DD: Is storytelling an important component of your work?
Luke Edward Hall: Characterful objects are crucial to help tell a story. I quite like the idea of being a storyteller, and whether I'm telling stories through antiques, clothing, or a blog of images, it's about creating that coherent universe. It’s important for me to put the clothing into context, and to weave the story of the collection. I always needed it to have some sort of narrative flowing through its heart, because clothing can be such a powerful tool in storytelling. I suppose it's about finding the place that exists somewhere between the fantastical and the real world.
DD: ...And the collection name, Endymion?
Luke Edward Hall: I fell in love with the poem Endymion by John Keats because he tells a story so perfectly. And I named my collection after it because it seemed to fit so well. In Greek mythology, Endymion was a handsome young shepherd who fell in love with the moon. I love the romance of it, and Keats, of course, is one of the greatest English romantic poets. When we shot the lookbook, the stylist, Anthony Stephinson, had circled his favourite lines of the poem and we ended up with a few images that mirrored his chosen lines perfectly! That's exactly what we wanted, to capture the spirit of Endymion – the Englishness, the youthfulness and the romance.
Text Stephanie Malik
Photography Kim Jakobsen To
Styling Anthony Stephinson
Grooming Teiji Utsumi and Shiori Takahashi
Model Jon Dartnell at FM Agency