MAN is the menswear show resulting from the partnership between Fashion East and Topman. The designers making it onto the catwalk this season were British Menswear Designer of the Year Kim Jones launching his KJ by Kim Jones range, Cassette Playa and Topman Design with Aitor Throup showing his collection through the means of an installation.
First up, Royal College of Art graduate Aitor Throup who presented a haunting installation in the foyer before the catwalk show. Entitled "The Funeral of New Orleans" it told the story of the destruction of New Orleans by hurricane Katrina in 2005 using clothes as a metaphor. The story played out thus – five members of a traditional New Orleans marching band are caught up in the disaster and must protect themselves and their instruments in order to survive. The musicians represented the city and the instruments the city’s musical heritage – the concept being that New Orleans must build on it’s musical heritage to move forward. The garments, consisting of ingenious transformable outerwear, link the two. Jackets and shirts adapt to protect from the elements, built in gloves are revealed and sculptural details on the jackets detach to form cases for the individual instruments. Other features included articulated visors and trousers incorporating shoe covers- designed to deter shoe thieves who stole from the evacuees forced to sleep rough.
Through video, music, lighting, sculpture and clothes elements of fashion, art and current affairs were brilliantly combined in one of the most thought-provoking shows of the week.
Onto the catwalk show. Kim Jones, known for his refined, casual clothing presented a collection that mixed elements of razor-sharp tailoring, sporty tees and shorts, laid back denim and light knits. The palette was a restrained combination of dove grey, white, beige and Oxford blue, punctuated at the end with an acid yellow shorts suit.
Next up, the work of Cassette Playa aka designer Carrie Munden aka Carrie "Mundane". According to the press release "this season’s gang of pixel warriors have evoked the power and taken the colours of sacred rainforest frogs". Hmmm… in other words if your computer-gaming addicted rude boy got hold of some mind-expanding frog poison this is probably what he’d wear. To my mind the opening outfits of super-baggy shorts, tees and hoodies in faded, bleach-splashed pastels, emblazoned with the new frog motif were the most successful elements of this collection. For the rest- although the pixilated prints and bleeding eye graphic are indeed Munden’s signature it would be great to see her try and take this cult label into new territory with something different.
Last but not least, Topman Design. Though this is obviously a commercial focussed collection, the universal appeal of suits with clean lines and fine silk shirts were set well against more directional outfits. Fine, oversized knits, preppy shorts and jacket combos and nod to the future with glazed nylon parkas made this another solid Topman show.