Tracing the anarchy: our top five cult-inspired collections from London menswear
British youth subculture history makes rich pickings for menswear designers. From sixties ska rudeboys in pork pie hats to noughties rudeboys in flat peak caps; punks, mods, seventies casuals, and every suited and booted boy in between – it’s no wonder the designers of LC:M couldn’t resist the allure of resistance style. The anarchy of the cult emanated from those who drew on those style stories – a certain anger, a certain cheekiness, a certain obsessiveness – epitomizing all that is London menswear.
As we say goodbye to LC:M for another season, we picked our top five favourite cult-inspired collections, from Christopher Shannon’s downtrodden seventies footballer to Katie Eary’s Saville Row seditionaries.
“I kept thinking about a footballer walking home in the rain and picking up a pint of milk,” Christopher Shannon told Dazed post-show of his AW14 muse. Seventies casuals garish tracksuits were deconstructed and modernized, and the misery and gloom of the decade was reflected on faded floral wallpaper print. Punk influences weren’t far from his mind however: Shannon selected a documentary clip zoning in on experimental post punk as his YouTube clip of AW14.
Though dazzling in its unwavering blackness and nightmare aesthetic, the raven feather-haired boys of Alexander McQueen had a certain new romanticism to them. The sweeping coats and shadowy kohled eyes were a nod to the style cult's reaction to punk, while soft pink tartan and quietly feminine kilts mimicked the 'romantic' aspect. David Bowie - a key influence on the new romantics - was felt through the androgynous silhouettes, and the show's Bauhaus soundtrack can also be heard in the club scene of eighties film The Hunger, staring Bowie.
Beneath the loud tortured Disney concept, Eary had blended two polar opposite British cults: the rough-and-ready prints and PVC of seventies seditionaries, filtered through the impeccable finish of Saville Row. Poisonous red tartan and patent, zipped leggings were refined by tailored jackets and crisp pleated skirts, as Eary collaborated with Saville Row tailor Richard Anderson.
Though the silhouettes were refined and the shirts pressed, a certain subculture cheekiness underpinned A. Sauvage’s collection. Like the mods, punks and rudeboys who grew up (but could never completely stifle their style), tailored suits were paired with sweaters printed with anarchist collage, and polished stomping boots replaced city brogues. A riotous tartan two-piece however, was proudly obnoxious punk.
Inspired by the trekkies and geeks he met attending sci fi conventions while an assistant for vintage fiend Virginia Bates (who starred in the original Doctor Who series), James Long AW14 took an intergalactic turn for AW14. Though sci-fi is an unwavering cult that spans decades, Long projected far into the future with hyper real, alien surface concepts. Models appeared with slicked bright blue hair, and wore elasticated, random quilted coats like alien skin.