At a time when the format of the traditional fashion show is being increasingly called into question, the latest menswear shows at London, Milan and Paris needed to pull out something special to get noticed. Let’s face it, consumer culture and attitudes are shifting, people expect more from fashion than a carbon copy of previous seasons or pieces with a limited shelf life. There were those that managed to fill high expectations though, whether it was a return to focus on cut and quality, or a disregard for the usual schedule of runway shows for something completely unique. This is the best of the men’s AW18 collections.
For Autumn/Winter ’18, Oliver Spencer has given us a contemporary, subtle nod to the 1970s, with a tonal collection of velvet and corduroy finished off with the accessory of the moment: the baker boy hat, Roxy Music’s Love Is the Drug providing the soundtrack as models walked down the runway. It was an update on Spencer’s signature pieces: loose, tailored trousers; zip-up bombers; knitwear made for layering. The slightly different cuts and finishes were enough to make it feel new and refreshing rather than a rehash of last season, while remaining timeless in that very Oliver Spencer way.
Matthew Miller eschewed the traditional runway or presentation format this season, opting for a three-bill gig instead, all performers dressed in his AW18 collection. Held under railway arches, there were two groups from Brighton – White Room and Strange Cages – and Tottenham Grime poet Ekeno. True to form, it was a collection with a heavy, current political influence. Large banners worn as scarves were emblazoned with the words consent, lascivious and salacious, with nylon bomber jackets modelled on police jackets serving as an antidote to the rest of Miller’s signature tailoring.
Marni’s creative director Francesco Risso was always going to have a tough job of taking on the brand after fashion’s darling, Consuelo Castiglioni, stepped down from the role in 2016. He’s coming into his own though, and showing he’s the right person for the job with his directional AW18 collection. This was a lesson in experimental tailoring, colour clashing and new Italian sportswear; the wool suits some of the best we’ve seen this season.
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This season’s Neil Barrett collection was all about the suit, referencing both the military kind traditionally reserved for men, and the couture kind worn by women for pleasure. There were double breasted pea coats worn over crisp white shirts; ties and slim tailored trousers; a modern, slim-fitting take on the tuxedo; a lux wool version of the military trench coat; and more casual options with bombers, printed trousers and bold trainers. A suit for every occasion.
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The inspiration for the Lemaire AW18 collection came from Tolstoy’s Russia, with muted folk-style prints (yes prints, for Lemaire, and it worked) on long silk shirting and loose pants, worn with thick heavy coats. The high-waisted tailored trousers that have become Lemaire’s speciality were there too, paired with turtlenecks or thick knitwear, while some of the best jackets came big-shouldered, boxy and had more than a hint of Talking Heads to them.
Taking inspiration from artists Joseph Beuys and Ellsworth Kelly, as well as military influences (which has become a staple of OAMC collections) from World War II, creative director Luke Meier gave us some of the best alternative suiting of the season. Beuys’ felt suit was a clear influence throughout, this time updated in stiffer, moulded fabric free of seams. This was balanced with Kelly-esque colour blocking, war-time boots (the tailored trousers tucked in), khaki, and sheer rain macs for a contemporary sportswear touch.
A staging set amongst recreated Parisian rooftops, the introduction of AMI’s ‘menswear for women’ collection and Alexandre Mattiussi’s unrivalled approach to contemporary French menswear made up the AW18 collection. It was one of his best yet, in all its simplicity; the impeccable cuts, silhouettes, fabrication and use of colour taking it to the next level. He brought out the pieces he’s perfected over the years – large, tailored double-breasted coats, low-slung trousers (this time long and loose or slim and cropped), open collared shirting and soft, crew neck sweaters – proving updated classics really are what works best.
Words by Angharad Jones. Images via Vogue