Our verdict: With the fashion industry seemingly in a constant state of flux and commercial success paramount to the stability of a designer’s future, there is the nagging worry that playing it safe might become the name of the game. And let’s face it, that could become rather boring. What is fashion without some theatre? Thankfully, then, we have MAN, the Fashion East and Topman initiative that supports some of the most exciting and innovative young designers the country has to offer. Per Götesson, Fen Cheng Wang and Charles Jeffrey are all very different designers but this diversity of creativity and inspiration are the ingredients that make MAN such an unmissable show.
Per Götesson’s artistic collection was part show, part installation. Lycra was his fabric of choice, but banish all thoughts of gym clothes from your mind, here it was used in a fluid way, on pyjama tops and trousers in black or beige cut to fall down the leg and drape over the foot. His signature denim pieces were there too in oversized waist high jeans and raw edged robes – bedroom wear meets work wear.
Focussing on senses and the fundamental need to feel safe Feng Chen Wang turned her attention to life’s grey areas – quite literally – and employed the colour in different shades throughout the show, mixing it from time to time with flesh tones to highlight the human form. Materials too focused on the form, leather was used to mimic skin while parachute material billowed around the body, cocooning the models in safe havens. Essential wear for blocking out the ensuing ills of 2017.
Last up to show us what he’s got was the imitable Charles Jeffrey who, according to our notes, unsurprisingly had much on his mind this season. Beginning with a troupe of clay soaked chalky dancers from The Theo Adams Company paranoia encircled the collection and Jeffrey’s fears and uncertainties found form in huge imposing, fantastical creatures by set designer Gary Card. While the mood was tense though, the collection itself was a beautiful chaos. A tailored satin suit in sapphire blue sat alongside a Victorian shaped leather aviator jacket and elsewhere we were given sculptural puffa jackets, painted faces and Prince of Wales coats, capes and outerwear restricted with Houdini-style straps. From traditional to radical, sci-fi to suited Charles Jeffrey’s AW17 collection was more than just fantasy, it was a dream collection.