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As you may know or maybe you’re blissfully unaware that Wednesday was MAN day at London Fashion Week, which saw great whispers and anticipation for the all new, LONDON COLLECTIONS: MEN, I know not the catchiest of names, set to launch on the 15th June this year. It will serve as a 3 day showcase, exclusively for British Menswear, with such big names as Sir Paul Smith, Margaret Howell, Aquasctum, Richard James, Calvin Klein and Tom Ford, OK the last two aren’t British, all confirmed as participating in the proceedings. Also, someone called Charles Wales, errr sorry HRH The Prince of Wales will mark the event by hosting a reception at St James’s Palace….. I better get an invite. Plus, there will be a change of venue no longer will the grandeur of Somerset House serve as the magnificent backdrop, but a move around the corner to the Hospital Club in Covent Garden.
But back to the present, or at least the present shows, which were displaying to the Menswear press and buyers of the world, the Autumn/Winter 2012 ranges. The day started with J.W. Anderson, who described his inspiration as mix of Aristocracy, youth culture & individualism, have to be honest, I couldn’t see it myself but there were some great individual pieces.
Next, the Great British institution that is Gieves & Hawkes literally steeped in history; this house has dressed everyone from Rock Stars to Royalty. In relatively new hands, Barry Tulip who was previously at Zegna & Dunhill, sited the three Davids as his inspiration. No! not Cameron, Jason & Beckham, tut, but Hockney, Hicks & Bowie. He offered an exceptionally wearable, luxurious and safe collection.
From formalwear to casualwear now as Christopher Shannon showed us his wears. The scouser who now has stockists from Sweden to Saudi Arabia, displayed a really wearable collection (see image below) which showed elements of Classic Moschino in its Streetwear. Shannon drew inspiration from Derek Jarman, Sinead O’Connor & John Maybury for the collection, now there’s an episode of Come dine with me, you wouldn’t miss.
I then ventured round the corner and came across Baartmans & Siegel, who were showing later in the day at the Freemason’s Hall, what an incredible venue, nuff said !!!! The muse for this collection was none other then….The Milk Tray Man, yes the 1970’s man of mystery supplied the goods in a sartorial sense. Think Scottish cashmere, puffa coats and bobble coats, trust me it was very wearable, I promise.
A change is as good as a rest and it was across the road to the Covent Garden Opera House for the TOPMAN Design show. A full house (see images below) and packed full of the brave and the bold, the meek and the mild were on full display, the celeb count included a very dapper Amir Khan, brother & sister Freddie & Emelia Fox, Ronnie Wood and Alex Zane. Later in the day I caught up with Gordon Richardson where we discussed the collection, I felt it was summed up by Ann Widdicombe’s quote regarding Michael Howard, “there was something of the night about him”, which he loved and completely agreed.
Both James Long and Patrick Grant for E. Tautz offered great collections for this season. Long showed brilliant knitwear pieces from cable knits to cardigans and Grant showed what a master of tailoring he is and as he himself put it, “ At the heart of the E.Tautz collection is Savile Row cutting”.
Moving on to a show I had been looking forward to, Oliver Spencer, a down to earth designer who offers great clothes which would look good on literally anyone and he didn’t disappoint. A wonderfully cast show, full of unusual models, not ugly, interesting, not a trace of a sickly looking teenagers in sight, but fella’s who looked as though they had lived a life (see image below). Workwear was fused with suiting and a young Lucian Freud was the iconic persona who supplied inspiration.
The penultimate show of the day was Matthew Miller, a genuine buzz was around this show and Matthew Miller IS a name to watch out for. The demand to see this show far outweighed the size of the venue. Another great Northern talent, Miller has collaborated with the shoe genius that is Oliver Sweeney for this collection both the footwear and apparel reflected urban prints like modern camouflage, maybe not the easiest thing to wear in a single outfit but nonetheless unbelievably striking.
Last of the day, but by no means least was Rake, held at the equally impressive Calridges. Fresh from dressing Tinie Tempah for the Brits, surely the winner of the best dressed male, if nothing else. Clive Darby, who previously worked for Savile Row bastions Richard James & Kilgour, displayed what can only be described as a masterclass in how a contemporary well dressed male should attire himself(see image below). Like Spencer, the show was cast with equally interesting individuals, models somehow doesn’t seem fitting. It rounded off a great day for British Menswear and illustrated what a world leading entity the British Style industry is, now can someone inform the government of that, oohhhh political.
Today is our first venture into “Textual Conversations” and what better way to kick things off with a bang then speaking to Gordon Richardson, the Design Director for TOPMAN and ohhhhh so much more. Not only is he one of the nicest men in Fashion, hand on heart, and truly a pleasure to interview, but has been responsible for creating a whole new level in, not just the British Menswear market but, increasingly the world. TOPMAN has long shook off the image of the place you’d buy your first suit to attend a job interview. Designers want to work with them, Mr Hare, Kim Jones, Oliver Spencer, Markus Lupfer to name but a few and well heeled celebrities openly wear TOPMAN with pride, even honour.
With TOPMAN spearheading the re-launch of, a stand alone, London Menswear Fashion Week in June of this year, Gordon has been the driving force behind this, dreaming up the TOPMAN Design range, shown yesterday during London Fashion Week(see the image below) and more about that tomorrow, the launch of a premium suiting range (see image below) the transformation of the flagship store on Oxford St, London, the opening of the flagship on Broadway, New York, the continued expansion into Canada, Japan, Russia, Malaysia etc etc. Surely, world domination can’t be far behind ? And amongst all that he made time for Clothes-make-the-man.com to ask him a couple of questions regarding his life and times.
1) If you could have invented anything what would it be ?
It would have to be the Ipod. Being a ardent music lover I cant think of anything else that is as well designed , mystical, and equal parts wonder and enjoyment. The design of an old Gibson ES 335 Guitar would come a close second though.
2) If you had one day to live what would be your biggest regret ?
Never having made it as a musician. As much as I now live and breathe fashion I would really rather be up on that stage guitar in hand, I think it’s the performer in me
3) What would be the one piece of clothing you would rescue from your home in the event of a fire ?
I would rescue a blazer of some description as I feel under dressed without one. If I could, I would sneak a patterned scarf of some description into one of the pockets I’d be even more happy!
4) What inspires you ?
People who go against the odds who swim upstream. Pioneers in all walks of life from ancient explorers to modern entrepreneurs. People who through their beliefs and endeavours have changed the pace of life.
5) Who is your style icon ?
I have several ranging from rock royalty, Keith Richards, to real royalty, Edward the 8th, with a lot in between. A look I’d summarise as Dishevelled as opposed to Distinguished Gentleman.
6) Tell us something no one else knows ?
For someone who’s in fashion you wouldn’t necessarily have associated me with a sporting past. I did however get all 10 wickets in a school cricket match once, a record at the time and who knows it may still stand.
7) What piece of style advise do you live by ?
Don’t be lured by fashions vagaries, establish your own style and work newer fashion pieces as and when they fit.
8) What piece of clothing should everyman have in his wardrobe ?
That’s a hard question as by singling out one item it suggests no other existing wardrobe pieces. But the one item would have to be a well cut blazer of some description. Something versatile enough to wear dressed up or down.
9) What piece of clothing would you relegate to Room 101 ?
Something along the lines of a baggy parachute silk pant a la MC Hammer. even worse in a bright colour.
10) What is you most memorable moment ?
Aside from obvious family events I’d say on the fear factor side when i went up in small plane with no actual proper sides to it with some parachutists. Once they’d jettisoned, so to speak, unbeknown to me the course of action is for the plane to nose dive at insane speed towards earth to save fuel. There weren’t enough bits of my body with which I could hold onto the seat. Complete terror!
To watch yesterday’s TOPMAN Design A/W show click on the link below or cut & paste –
This true heritage range based on the on the everyday wardrobe of Jack White, not to be mistaken with the White Stripes guitarist. The VC part of the moniker is after the Victoria Cross which was awarded to Jack at the tender age of 20 for outstanding bravery under intense enemy fire duringWorld War I.
After returning from the killing fields of the Great War, he undertook an apprenticeship with a local outerwear factory, Cooper & Stollbrand, which is where to this very day his Great grandson, James Eden, produces the collection inspired by the clothing he wore in his daily life, items he customised to suit his everyday activities .
Patterns from the Factory’s outerwear archive have been modernised to suit the needs of a more contemporary clientele. Trousers come in robust moleskin, brushed British cotton and raw denim, whilst heavy Guernsey knits and a waxed wool coat have been created to withstand the elements of a busy modern life.
The backstory to this fascinating brand, was celebrated in the Channel 4 documentary, Made in England, which looked into the transition of the Copper & Stollbrand factory from a fossil of a bygone era to the journey James Eden and his business partner Nick Ashley, yes as in Laura Ashley, his Mother, dragged the business into the 21st Century.
As part of this journey the brand, in November of last year, transported its centenary heritage to the Capital to launch its first flagship store on what is arguably, one, if not the trendiest streets in London, Lambs Conduit Street, which boasts such uber tenants as Oliver Spencer, Folk and the pop up store showcase of Cube PR.
Please don’t let the fact of Private White VC’s prime retail outlet being based in the great metropolis of London put you off. The brand has a GREAT website filled with interesting facts regarding the history of the great man himself, the factory of Copper & Stollbrand, ohh and you can purchase some of the wonderful pieces this actual heritage brand produces too and remember quality is a commodity worth paying for.