The ‘Best of’ GFW 2013 – Menswear
While it is said that designing menswear presents more artistic limitations, compared to designing womenswear, this year’s GFW creative crop may have proved otherwise. They offer a very diverse set of menswear collections with eccentric variations on the traditional suit, on leisure wear, and everything in between. Some colours and patterns were bold whilst statements were also made using achromatic palettes.
Winner of the International Award, Angus Chiang from Shih Chien University in Taiwan opened the ‘Best Of’ show on the closing day of Graduate Fashion Week 2013. His utility suits, embossed with neon dragons and carnations made you want to travel up to space, setting the bar sky high for visionary menswear.
Chiang wasn’t the only one to design a bright collection. Olivia Peszynski from Manchester Metropolitan University presented a minimalist set consistent of only three colours: muted grey, sunshine yellow and vivid fuchsia. These colours were displayed blocked upon geometrical tailoring, focused on the juxtapositions of various shapes. Disc shapes were predominant; they intersected rectangular lines on the hip of a chino trouser, peeked out of yellow shorts and formed the breast of a trench coat. Patterns were controlled, appearing in the form of single grid checks. Peszynski’s final twist came down the catwalk as an unexpected translucent plastic trouser, introducing a softer texture to this clinically-tailored collection.
Juliana Siqueira from Istituto Marangoni was conflicted when playing with colours, using one single bold tone liberally with each outfit within an otherwise onyx-hued collection. Her assembly of kilted suits truly popped. Tuxedo jackets, waistcoats and trenches featured subtle variations from the number of buttons to the cut of the lapel. Some jackets opted out of carrying lapels, featuring the jagged shape of a cut-out into their design instead. Whilst tailoring was monochromatic upon the upper body, it was complemented by silken kilts in aquamarine, amethyst and jewel magenta shades.
Rubina Khanum from the University of Salford opted out of using colour altogether to create an achromatically textured collection, rich in unexpected juxtapositions. In the opening look, a clinical white shirt contrasted a flowing maxi skirt in jet. They were followed by a patterned shirt which continued through to the ankles in an elegant version of the dressing robe. Another robe appeared, but quilted in a kimono wrap-around style. The maxi skirt made a re-appearance worn with a chunky oversized knit. Denim featured in the form of a rigidly pleated kilt to match an equally square jacket. These varied textures and silhouettes were tied together through a neutral palette.
Many students kept to a limited colour palette, maybe to better flaunt their meticulous tailoring skills. This was evident with Ravensbourne’s William Baxter’s collection, bringing to life a nostalgic dandy eccentric. There were zigzag patterned blazers in teal and cardinal red, the latter with matching trousers while the former was teamed with suede shorts over brown ankle-grazing chinos. A teal jumpsuit was worn underneath a long indigo blazer. Trousers were held up with braces attached to the shirt, rising only up to the waist, to be seen again wrapped around the forearms. Burnt mauves and maroons on a sleeveless pinstripe jumpsuit completed the palette.
Similarly, Arts University Bournemouth’s Stephen Garvey’s limited palette revolved around an imperial red complemented by various shades of grey, from silver to stone. A trompe-l’oeil illusion knitted pattern printed onto jackets and trousers deceived most of us. The same print extended into azure stand-alone graphics, detailed spherically upon black shirts. The colour blue was prominent here, unifying the brogues worn with each outfit and the sports watches a select few donned. Intersecting blocks of silver and bold red created a futuristic contrast with the soft yarn patterns and rustic plaids in sepia shades.
Jennifer Lowther from Northumbria University’s collection was made of genuine knit rather than an illusory print of it. Her casual sportswear bore emblazoned patterns repeating the injunction: “Have some balls”, rather subtly printed on t-shirts and jogging bottoms and bolder on scarves and the back of a jacket. Warholian soda can and argyle prints added to the graphic eclecticism of this collection which remained very wearable.
Nottingham Trent’s Adnan Ebo’s collection also relied on pictorial graphics, although the origins of his prints date further back in time. He used oil paintings depicting the French Revolution to illustrate coats in dark colours. A vivid portrait of Napoleon prominently graced a black jumper and formed a subtle omnipresent print on a cobalt blue shirt. These were teamed befittingly with jodhpurs and long boots, and also with straight-legged trousers to match simple suit jackets in block burgundy and navy shades.
Helen Senior from De Montfort created a decadent collection combining a multitude of luxe textures and ornate prints. These attributes were crossed over by laser-cutting brocade patterning into metallic gold for trousers and coats. Metallics also appeared in blues: a royally hued blazer was emblazoned in fine polka dots, whilst the quilting on a cornflower jacket enhanced the textile’s lustre. A powder blue blazer did not carry any shine as its repetitive arabesque print was exquisite by itself. Liberty prints (again in blue tones) flattered a brown plaid in the first look, and with a brick-red, paisley print anorak that followed. An emphasis on blues was serenely balanced against gold, taupe and crimson.
The ‘Best of’ graduate collections showed how menswear design boundaries can be aesthetically challenged. Tailoring became anarchic as student designers experimented with traditional cutting techniques to invent new proportions. From carnation covered spacesuits to paisley waterproofs, they used print, colour and texture confidently. The result is a new generation of statement apparel, flamboyant yet very much masculine.
All images taken by Sayuri Standing and Cinsy Tam.