Since his first model sashayed out on the catwalk, Charles Jeffrey’s Loverboy label has become synonymous with bringing a raucous, overtly-queer energy to London’s menswear schedule, with past collections featuring made-up club kids, genderless aliens, and even a drag Queen Elizabeth once. It makes sense then, that Topshop Topman tapped the designer to head up its newly-released Pride collection.
Overseeing the project as its curator, Jeffrey enlisted five artists and friends – Ryan Driscoll, Axel Gutapfel, Stephanie Linn, Frances Wilks, and James Spencer – to create their own t-shirt for the collection. Each of them were given a different gay right – the right to adopt, serve within the military, and participate in marriage among them – which had previously been denied in this country. “Things which have been fought for,” Jeffrey explains. “It feels reflective and joyful at the same time, which was super important to me.” Each tee features a unique piece of artwork on the front and a related quote to the back.
While these rights are now afforded to those in this country, there are still places around the world where they are not, and Jeffrey recognises the importance of Pride as a global event. “Pride has massive symbolic importance,” he explains. “It's about so much, but first and foremost it's about love and celebration.” Counting Derek Jarman, Sylvia Rivera, and George Michael (“My ultimate gay icon, he was bolder, braver, and more honest than any artist I can think of,” he says) the collection is a tribute to them, the LGBTQ+ people in his life, and those around the world for whom the fight is ongoing. “It's honestly an honour to be able to do something this joyful,” the designer continues.
For the shoot, Jeffrey enlisted long-term collaborator and photographer Thurstan Redding to capture the collection. Taking over the Pale Blue Door in Shoreditch, the images see a gang of Loverboys wearing the tees. “I love that it captures something really raw, but has something really magical and elegant to it; almost The Last Supper vibes,” explains the designer of the shoot.
Beyond raising awareness, 30 per cent of the proceeds from the collection will go to Diversity Role Models, a cause close to the designer’s heart. “The work they do is so inspiring,” he says. “They work in schools with really young kids on normalising atypical families, sharing learned experiences, teaching them how language affects people.”
Topshop Topman x Charles Jeffrey Loverboy launches online on Thursday June 21 and in a selection of stores on Friday June 22.