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Fashion East: Charles Jeffrey SS16 menswear
Charles Jeffrey SS16Photography Chloé Le Drezen

The designer who turned the ICA into a queer club night

Heading down to LOVERBOY tonight? Get the party started with the epic Sega Bodega mix from Charles Jeffrey’s riotous SS16 presentation

Walking towards the darkened room of the ICA that designer Charles Jeffrey took over for his LC:M presentation, you didn’t know what to expect. It was the music that hit you first, of course – the mix by Sega Bodega cranked up loud and thumping out nostalgic hits remixed and reworked with infectious energy. Descending into the black-walled space felt like entering an underworld – one where a gang of outlandish creatures on a stage gyrated their bodies to the beats, throwing all traditional ideas of gender out the window as they danced around a DJ, flower petals and plastic cups at their feet.

This was the realm of LOVERBOY, Jeffrey’s own club night and community, who had relocated from the after-dark world of Dalston to the prestigious art space, just down the road from Buckingham Palace. Dressed in the designer’s paint-covered jeans, with belts knotted at their waists and destroyed knitwear on their backs, a crowd of models stood interspersed between the dancers, staring down the audience with colourful painted faces. London’s new fashion tribe had arrived. Ahead of the latest LOVERBOY tonight, we caught up with Jeffrey to find out more about the show and his band of outsides – plus stream the exclusive soundtrack.

What were you aiming for with the presentation?

Charles Jeffrey: For me it was a way to bring LOVERBOY and my clothing together in one space, to see how that would work. I get so inspired by the people who come and the people who were on that stage: we photographed them, we filmed them, we put them on the pedestal to have them interact with my clothing as well. For me that’s what has to happen for the next step. The original idea was to have everyone moving, but for me we just had to have those curated models, because otherwise it would be completely anarchic and people would be like ‘What the fuck is going on?’

How would you sum up the energy of it?

Charles Jeffrey: What always happens with LOVERBOY – because this was, for me, another LOVERBOY – is that I want it to be anarchic and really angry, but it always becomes very joyous, and I think that’s because it shows the sensibility of us all together as a group and I think that’s what LOVERBOY actually is. For me just reading that moment, it was a joyous one. I did want it to be angry, but it’s a joyous one because I love it. It was my way of expressing myself and I was able to achieve that through the help of Fashion East who gave me the space. 

How much is your work a collaborative thing?  

Charles Jeffrey: Massively. Obviously you need to collaborate with other people to achieve things, building sets that kind of stuff. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without other people there, and I know that will be the case for the future as well. What I want to put forward about my brand is that it’s a group of people, aside from myself. In a kind of Warholian way, in that it was just as much about the other people as it was about him too. It might be direct copy about how he works, but I think that’s how I see myself working. 

You take Instax at all your nights – how did you document the presentation? 

Charles Jeffrey: There were GoPros on the stage and iPhone photos and stuff. I think next I’m going to have quite a lot of reflection about where I can take it further, because obviously I can’t do a club every presentation, but this was a nice cadence. 

How do you think your work has changed since your graduate collection?

Charles Jeffrey: We’ve pushed forward the pieces that have obviously had the most attention, denim, the Aran knitwear that’s been ripped apart, but I also pushed forward colour and the outerwear. I’m very big on my outerwear, because that’s just how I like to dress as well. Then just staple styling references to claim as my own like the tights and the belts, those things are my territory. The high waisted silhouette and the neckties – things like that, they’re added to what was before. The big trousers were an addition.

You teamed up with a tailor on Saville row for some of the pieces – which are those? 

Charles Jeffrey:  The blue coat in cashmere, the button blazer with the stripes and the hand painted shorts. There’s the school boy look in the blue. Another collaboration, the knitwear was done by Joshua Beatty who just graduated and it was funny because he used a lot of LOVERBOYs in his runway so it’s just really fitting that it comes together. I think we achieved something special with what we had – I think we achieved something quite good. 

LOVERBOY is on tonight at Dalston’s Vogue Fabrics. Head here for more information