London Fashion Week Men's: St James's
With Lou Dalton and Cottweiler showing in St James's, we take a look at the clothes and ask what does it all say about the state of modern British menswear?

First to show, Lou Dalton is a designer who makes piece you want to wear. It's less a work of conceptual art, and more practical pieces created from a true expression of fun and a love of materiality. She’s also a recent collaborator with John Smedley and Jaeger.

 

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In contrast to a Spring/Summer show that had a strong contingent of black, this show's a celebration of colour, along with a foundation of denim and crisp white in long shorts, loose trousers, and oversized jackets.

 

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As ever her knitwear was simple yet sumptuous, in bold bifurcated pattern: orange/camel and navy. There are also some wonderful bobble-covered jumpers that elevate the simple grey jumper.

 

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The real show-stopper though was the painted cotton canvas suit – a sort of muted rainbow in a crazy paving pattern. Pure joy. 

 

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This was all beautifully brought to life with a video showing actor Russell Tovey putting on and stripping off pieces of the collection in a never-ending backwards-forwards loop. The film was shot in the presentation space: the top floor of the striking new curvilinear building of No.2 St James’s Market.

 

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There is a loose-ness and an ease, and an inherent positivity to the collection. Definitely an invigorating refresher for the start of 2017.

 

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Friends of the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) on The Mall are likely already aware of brand Cottweiler, who have shown their film work in the gallery.

 

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Always concept-led, this collection melded sportswear and outerwear genres – toggles, adjustable straps and waterproof materials – with something more futuristic.

 

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With wet hair and lugging deflated blow-up beds and sleeping bags, Cottweiler’s models appear as a sort of urban camping troop. 

 

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With trees and shrubbery punctuating the hollowed out shell of a new restaurant unit, the collection – by duo Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty – seems to inhabit a time when the urban and the natural crossover into something more extreme.

 

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Differing in style and aesthetic, these two British fashion houses share an interest and fascination with materials rooted in practicality no matter their eventual final expression. It’s a theme common too to St James’s, where items like Aquascutum’s invention of the trench coat or Barbour’s signature oil cloth are two local signatures.

 

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What a wonderful – and wonderfully impressive – display of homegrown talent and scope of creativity. I wonder what LFWM will bring in June?