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Backstage at Charles Jeffrey AW18Photography Lillie Eiger

Five of the best shows of London Menswear

Featuring Craig Green, Wales Bonner and more

London Fashion Week Men’s wrapped up last night, and while the schedule was notably slimmer than in previous seasons, there was plenty to see. Here are five of the standouts. 


You had to go up an escalator that went through the heart of a giant globe sculpture to get to Cottweiler’s AW18 show, which took place deep in the Natural History Museum. Surrounded by cabinets of glittering geological samples (special shout out to the suitably eyebrow-raising “rock hard” text that ran above one exhibit), designers Matthew Dainty and Ben Cottrell sent out a group of futuristic, ravey cave-dwellers that were kitted out in technical fabrics decorated with digital prints created from images taken during the duo’s recent adventures exploring Slovenian caves. Accessories glowed like phosphorescent underground finds, and, adding a fetishistic, uncanny edge, a few lucky models had their entire arms lubed up, ears plugged with greasy gunk, or slimy-looking stalactites that dripped from their clothes and accessories. There was also a surprise collaboration in the form of bags designed in partnership with Mulberry. “We’re not about shouting things, it’s about feeding things through that are quality...” said Dainty backstage, “...(we want) people to discover more and research deeper into the collections; we don’t put it all on a plate.” finished Cottrell.


“It was about this sailor who had been isolated at sea for a long time and was returning to an island,” said designer Grace Wales Bonner after her AW18 show. With prints of busy port scenes via Afro-American artist Jacob Lawrence’s 1941 Migration Series, the show explored the perspective offered on a place from a distance – as well as her attempts “to understand what a Creole aesthetic could look like.” In a room draped with a sail-like fabric installation by Harlem-based artist Eric N. Mack, models (including four from agency Saint International who had been flown over especially from Jamaica) wore subtly sensual takes on sailor dressing – navy blue wide-collared jackets, sou’wester hats, and low-slung tailored trousers which grazed the hip-bones. Far from the sexy sailor cliche, it was refined, intelligent and romantic. “I think there was a soulfulness I was trying to communicate and also celebrate this collective identity – looking at an island you can see how people move together,” the designer explained.


The name of Charles Jeffrey’s AW18 show? Tantrum. Citing Alan Downs’ The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World, Jeffrey explored one particular emotion this season: anger. His LOVERBOY gang kicked things off by stomping around the strobe-lit showspace in a shrieking regime choreographed by the one and only Theo Adams, before a painted blue drummer started furiously playing along to the Prodigy’s “Firestarter” as a series of giant sculptures by Gary Card inflated. Out came his crew – in clothes that made references to his native Scotland (berets, kilts, and his very own LOVERBOY tartan) as well as Teddy Boy tailoring, waist-cinching corsets and couture-inspired silhouettes. “That book really resonated with me… I wanted to amplify our LOVERBOY language and utilise things that we have used before and push them forward,” Jeffrey said. “We were looking at ideas of why gay people are so into escapism, why they live double lives, why they’re into luxury and why they’re high achievers.”


Craig Green’s AW18 show – which took place in a warehouse in Lambeth – started out simply enough: styled by Dazed’s creative director Robbie Spencer, the opening look was a white shirt paired with black trousers. From there, things only got more complex, with Green exploring both new and archival territory with what he termed an almost childlike curiosity. There were heavily pocketed utilitarian trousers and jackets trailing with strings, knitwear which felt both homespun and, thanks to a series of cutouts, slightly sexy, and a final series of colourful patterned coats like those debuted last season. He also brought back the sculptures he’s showcased in the past – this time they were adorned with latex, and often carried by models wearing a pair of jeans. “If we have one of them in the collection, I feel easier about being like, maybe just a pair of jeans is ok!” laughed Green post-show.


British designer Samuel Ross only hosted his label A-COLD-WALL*’s third show yesterday, but it was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the week (and, thanks to his legions of followers, one of the hottest tickets). Steel construction beams decorated the runway as models walked out in a collection which was Ross’s take on industrial workwear, interpreted in innovative silhouettes and technical fabrications. The show’s title, “The National Gallery”, seemingly at odds with the blue-collar influences, was the designer’s way of bringing together his working-class references with the institutional spaces of the creative world, imagining a fictitious room where his collection could live in the museum. “I'm looking at building sites, construction yards, how garments are made from a utilitarian perspective,” Ross said, making reference to artist Anthony Caro, who created sculptures from found metal beams. “How the materials he used are so industrial but when put into a gallery environment, it changes the way that we interpret, look at and view these materials in a new context.”