London’s Men’s Shows Were a Hotbed of Political Commentary and Calls to Action
Clothing has always been political—what we wear and how we wear it has been a social issue since before the ancient Greeks—but in the current climate of international chaos, garments have taken on new meaning, able to show off in an instant the wearer’s political point of view. Nowhere has that been more obvious than at the menswear shows in London this week, where designers new and old have put political messaging front and center on the runways.
The most startling commentary came early on in the week, when MAN designer Charles Jeffrey presented looks that walked through the history of British fashion. In the mix were three gigantic papier-mâché figures designed by Gary Card, the most poignant of which came painted with with segments of the Stars and Stripes and of the Union Jack. Jeffrey called the trio of grotesque forms “goddesses,” but to the lay observer, they looked more like freaky phalli. In passing, the patriotic-printed one could resemble a nuclear warhead, too—is this Jeffrey’s way of warning what horrors might lie ahead? Maybe not—“Jeffrey was trolling,” wrote Vogue.com critic Luke Leitch in his review. Still, in today’s fearsome climate, we couldn’t help but see his giant creatures as eerily foreboding.
More subtle displays of our political unrest followed. Matthew Miller’s modelswore bloody red face paint and carried black and red flags during his show’s finale. He told Vogue.com Chief Critic Sarah Mower, “It’s about how a generation are a product of fear politics in a post-truth world. It’s created a collection of individuals who are afraid to act.” Japanese designer Mihara Yasuhiro was also thinking about fear in a collection that evoked images of Black Panthers, Che Guevara–styled Marxists, and other revolutionaries. “I look around now and see all the young people who are scared about President Trump and what that will mean,” he told Leitch.
Unsurprisingly, much of London’s creative set had Brexit on the mind. At Agi & Sam, the designers’ statement on the Brexit vote was unassuming: a European Union flag printed onto a wool jacket. Spring’s anti-Brexit advocate Daniel W. Fletcher, for his part, created a collection that sought to move on from the tumult of the EU referendum. “After such a turbulent year in politics—and all the xenophobia—I wanted to send out a positive message,” he said. That meant streamlined, luxurious clothes for a new generation of political disruptors and champions of change. Still, Fletcher couldn’t leave the politicking for the pollsters. Promotional images of his collection featured models of all ethnicities with a call to action beneath asking viewers to vote for his cast of gangly guys.
The message wasn’t muddled or minimized at Christopher Shannon’s brilliantly perverse show. Some models’s faces were covered with shredded flags, a not-so-subtle take on the crumbling state of international relations. Shannon’s clothing, too, went heavy on the messaging. One gent took to the runway wearing a black sweatsuit with a parody of the Boss International logo that read “Loss International.” His flag? That of the European Union. London’s young guard of designers might “just be making clothes,” as their detractors would say, but it’s clear they won’t go gently into that good night. Let’s see if the commentary and calls to action continue in Milan and Paris.Read more at:formal dresses australia | cocktail dresses