Katie Eary and the newcomers Jaiden RvA James and New Power Studio went down to the vaults
There were militia wielding crushed velvet guns, men strapped into leather and wedges and an ex Formula 1 driver wheeling around in a mobility car. We may have been down in the vaults this time for MAN but we certainly got some largescale theatrics in terms of visually raw ideas. At the same time, whilst the show may have been been a spectacle, closer inspection makes you realise all three designers offered pieces that could be broken down and taken apart and recontextualised in settings other than the fantastical stories that these designers weaved.
Katie Eary looked to Irvine Walsh's novel Marabou Stork Nightmares for inspiration where the protagonist's nightmares are reconfigured into jungle warrirors that donned brightly printed parkas, mock croc shirts in plenty of brightly coloured textures that reflected this militia gone hyper. Eary used nake, patridge, silver fox, velvet devore and lizard to add textural variety as well as a puposely jarring iridescent plastic fabric that was the literal reference to a hallucinatory state.
Jaiden rVa James' went to a bleak place where the whole world is burning up and supposedly a revolution has broken out rendering men strapped and trapped in leather and sheepskin ensembles all in black along with masks for survival in this worl. These pieces of armour were given zips, belts and plenty of buckles as ammunition and the thigh high wedges and ankle boots were much a sentiment of restriction placed upon Jaiden rVa James' emasculated men.
New Power Studio's commentary on the multicultural yet homogenised 21st century London life was a gentler affair that perked spirits up with their use of different characters on the runway that all wore the casual tailoring and sportswear-influenced navy pieces in their own way, accessorised by Scott Wilson jewellery and hats by Nasir Mazhar. We had a drum headed boy, a drag queen and finally, Barry Whizzo, an ex-Formula 1 racer who made his entrance on a mobility car, causing slight confusion as well as cheers in the crowd.
Dazed Digital: How did you translate the concepts of Irvine Welsh's book into the collection?
Katie Eary: It's the adventure he's going through in his coma. It's very loose and dreamy. He's this chavvy boy from Leith but then he goes to Africa. It's a chav trying to survive in the jungle.
All the prints are rainforest animals, things he's trying to fight in his dream. It's all quite sinister. They're trying to hunt this Marabou, this evil bird and it turns out the bird is the evil part of him.
DD: You're known for pushing extreme textures and detailing in your work - how have you worked with these elements this time round?
Katie Eary: I've really pushed it for colour and print in menswear but then if you look at it, it's not really that crazy. It's ok to do these basic pieces like t-shirts and ski-pants in crazy fabrics. I look at them as such easy pieces and by changing the fabric into say an irridescent fabric, you're already changing the perception of the piece.
Dazed Digital: How did you get to this post-apocaplyptic vision in your collection?
Jaiden James: At the moment, I'm over this century with this whole celebrity culture.
DD: So was it a statement collection like the previous one?
Rasharn Agyemang: It's not a really a statement as such as you can take apart the pieces; the shirts, the trousers and the jackets. We wanted to show that men can wear heels in different ways which can look attractive.
We like to be very creative with our designs and we just wanted to push it this time and I think we have.
DD: Have you moved away from what your initial aesthetic where there were romantic elements?
Jaiden James: There's still elements of what we do from the past collections. There's always elements of us restricting men, putting them in corsets and heels in the way women are.
Dazed Digital: So I'm guessing you wanted to demonstrate diversity in your show?
Thom Murphy: I know it's cliched to say that we're multi-cultural but the collection is also saying that we're diverse but also becoming more and more the same.
DD: Were the clothes reflecting a sense of uniformity then?
Thom Murphy: I wanted to use these different characters whilst making them all cohesive. It's a reflection of British high street shopping too.
DD: On a technical level, what were you playing with in the pieces?
Thom Murphy: I was working with really nice shapes and when you look at the jackets, there are different details going on. It's something that looks normal and it's got something that has a lot more to it.