Covent Garden is London’s answer to Italian cities like Venice in my opinion. It is a go to area for wining and dining, filled with culture, theatres and loads of shops – I could lose myself for an entire day here and not tire of the place. It seemed apt that the LONDON COLLECTIONS: MEN, a three day fashion exhibition and catwalk shows to showcase the best in upcoming British designers and a few established ones, should hold here. In its second season of existence, this event was created by the British Fashion Council as a break away from the main London Fashion week which focuses mainly of female fashion. Judging from the first two editions, it has been a resounding success and it will soon become a mainstay of the fashion calendar.
I joined a few fashion enthusiasts, buyers, designers and showbiz personalities at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden in west London, and it was three days of fashion for today’s man. There was something for every man, and a space on the exhibition for both aspiring designers like Christopher Raeburn to well establish names Burberry, Nicole Farhi and John Smedley.
My passion and huge aversion for shoes meant I was very much interested in the shoe designers on parade. At events like these, you expect a bit of everything; the sublime, the weird and the downright wacky and LCM didn’t disappoint in this regard, they were all on show. Nothing could have prepared me for my meeting with DIEGO VANASSIBARA, a Brazilian designer who learnt his technique in the UK and brought pieces on show that will have a few established names looking over their shoulders. He says of his trademark piece, THE HYBRID CONSTRUCTION, “In terms of style, I like adding a hint of exoticism and unconventionality, especially through shape and in the form of materials, to a more classic gentleman’s silhouette. I pursue a timeless design aesthetic that transcends seasonality and ages beautifully.”
I have followed shoe construction and design very religiously for a few years but was stunned by Diego when I met his special design, Derby meets Oxfords! He has crafted a design with offers the best of both worlds in a style that allows the shoe to keep its shape and form with every step. There is a huge influence of his background in carpentry and woodwork in the sole and embellishments along the vamp of some of his designs, using mahogany for example. He is yet to break into the major European markets but I expect that is only a matter of time and you read about him here first.
There were also a couple other firsts on show at this year’s event for shoes with the bigger being the entry into the men’s market of NICHOLAS KIRKWOOD. The brand has experienced huge success in the ladies footwear market and judging from the preview and reviews of the men’s line due for sale in spring/summer 2013, a similar success story is in store. MR HARE had a stunning show for his brand too with his models doing dance moves, twists and turns to show how durable and mouldable the leather and construction on his foot wear is. From next spring, the brand is also introducing slightly more affordable lines so more people can get a pair or two from the brand.
It wasn’t all shoes at this event, no far from it. This event serves as a launch pad for upcoming designers to showcase their talent and there were few who stood out. I was quite impressed with his unique style which focuses on, “Utilising re-appropriated military fabrics; Christopher Raeburn creates garments that are functional, intelligent and meticulously crafted”. Every single item of clothing that was on the catwalk had a history and a story that stemmed from this ideology, from jackets made from re-used RAF maps to old tents converted to reversible hoodies.
I can’t finish without mentioning the amazing gift packs and men’s health survival kit bags handed out at the venue, it contained just everything a man would love in a grooming kit, welcome to today’s man. Also worthy of mentioned that designers on show had stands and stalls on 3 of the four floors of the event. You could walk in and get any information you needed on a brand even if you missed their catwalk show. I look forward to the Lagos edition with renewed vigour; I hope to see you there.
A very big thank you to Bacchus Studio for my access all area pass for the duration of the event, well appreciated. Also like to thank to Exposure Edit for providing me with catwalk pictures coverage.