Pin It
Christopher Shannon AW16
Christopher Shannon AW16Photography Chloé Le Drezen

Christopher Shannon looks to 1980s suburban Liverpool

A closer look at the designer’s AW16 collection ‘The Comfort and the Horror’ and the Britain that inspired it

The tits, tan and tequila brigade on holiday, plastic bags (pre 5p tax), obsessive hoarders, clubbing at Garlands, a footballer soaked in the rain in the 1970s. Christopher Shannon has the best references in the business. Give him a clipboard and he could do a late night panel show about everyday Britain on one of the news channels.

While some designers might think a slightly thinner shoulder pad is enough of a talking point, Shannon is fascinated with a dissemination of the prosaic, spanning the last few decades. He’s right to be: it’s more emotionally satisfying, magnifying the things we identify from growing up – and realising that we’re all united by them, it wasn’t just us. The boys that spun the waltzers at the funfair, the peeling wallpaper in the kitchen, those crystal ashtrays you’d only find at your nan’s house.

“It’s brilliant his show arrived in the week where 20,000 people logged on to Periscope to stare at a puddle (#DrummondPuddleWatch)”

The contents of the rolled-up tabloid in the front of a transit van are tomorrrow’s hard-bound book, after all. Certainly it’s the little odd things, as well as the big events, that tell a story of our lives. It’s brilliant his show arrived in the week where 20,000 people logged on to Periscope to stare at a puddle (#DrummondPuddleWatch).

Shannon’s been dwelling upon another great thing for AW16. Titled “The Comfort and the Horror”, he’s looked to 1980s suburban Liverpool, where he grew up, a time before the era of accessibility: the internet and the high street.

“It was before that time when everyone was into fashion,” he says. “I kept thinking about babysitter’s boyfriends – they’d arrive in a jacket and you had no idea where they could’ve got it. You don’t get that quality of that oddness anymore, where you think something’s good just because you hadn’t seen it before.”

Inspired by the designer’s recent collaboration with artist Linder Sterling (Shannon clothed her ballet “The Children of the Mantic Stain”), the designer moved from the catwalk to the Alison Jacques Gallery, projecting found VHS footage of Liverpool and a wooden set with mimicking Barratt homes, complete with those prized uPVC windows. Music was composed especially for the presentation by Maxwell Sterling.

The looks are what he coveted at that time, albeit Shannonified. Bootleg printed t-shirts, patchwork shirts and outerwear nodding to late 80s labels, deconstructed anoraks, velour trackies, boxer shorts and knitwear. "Things like shearling jackets,” he summarises. “My uncle, who was minted, had a shearling jacket. That's what everyone was after.”