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London Collections: Men – Alex Mattsson, Astrid Andersen and Richard Nicoll

Brooke Candy at Alex Mattson and enlightened rudeboys at Astrid Andersen.

by Bertie Brandes and Christine Jun
18 June 2013, 8:40am

When you're as good-looking and well-dressed as us, it's Fashion Week every week. But this week it really is Fashion Week. This is a roundup of the best things we've seen at London Collections: Men, so far.

ALEX MATTSON

“I wanna fuck right now!” gets screamed a lot during Fashion Week, but it’s normally at least half an hour into one of those rubbish “open bar” parties in a hotel conference room, not at 7PM in the middle of Covent Garden. Then again, Alex Mattsson is clearly not the type of person to hold off until midnight. As Brooke Candy abused the crowd, queening around the models in a thong unitard and Rapunzel plaits, it was easy to forget you were five minutes away from the microwaved baguettes of Pontis. Just moments from tourists discovering Ben’s Cookies (big deal), here was a presentation which felt genuinely provocative and exciting. And loud. And filled with oiled male models. I mean come on, what’s not to love?

The models, standing together like a guerrilla army headed up by their gyrating chieftain, were sweaty, sulky, backpacked teenage soldiers. Subverting the military uniform with Futurist cues, Mattsson’s collection revolved around all-over prints, bulky backpacks, chains, mesh detailing, boxing trainers and the obligatory black berets. Apparently inspired by the Rastafarian movement this season, as well as Mattsson’s signature sci-fi-cum-gangsta vision, the weed print fabric merged together to resemble ferns, which is camouflage done pretty perfectly. If you ever need to take shelter in a huge marijuana plant, Alex Mattsson SS14 has got what you need. 


ASTRID ANDERSEN

Danish designer Astrid Andersen returned this season with a collection which was at once delicate, masculine, razor sharp and relaxed. I know that probably just sounds like a bundle of words to you, but when you manage to put a guy wearing a bodysuit made of white lace down the runway next to someone in a luxe tracksuit, without it looking weird, you deserve as many words as you need. Andersen's classic streetwear elements formed the backbone of her SS14 show, evident in the matching velour tracksuits, jogging bottoms in shiny waterproof fabric and big spacious gym bags. Standout pieces from the collection included voluminous mixed-fabric hooded jumpers with fur detailing and with matching shorts. Oh yeah, and then there was the delicate white lace body suits, arm bands and lip rings, which you definitely wouldn't want to work out in.

Crop tops toed the line between playful and hyper-masculine as they rose up over slick, oiled six packs, and open-toe sandals were a clever-hippie-meets-athlete twist on the crystal theme which the collection was inspired by. In fact. there was definitely a sense of exercise-driven catharsis throughout. Maybe Astrid wants us all to work out more. Sorry Astrid, no luck, but congrats on the show.


RICHARD NICOLL

The thing a lot of people don't seem to realise about Fashion Weeks is that they're often really, really boring. I know that sounds like bullshit, you get to skip work to go and sit in rooms with people you might recognise from a TV show about a magazine from six years ago. And yes, sometimes there is free bottled water. But please believe me when I quote Andre Leon Talley (who, by the way, I have never seen) in saying "There is a famine of beauty." God, there is so much bad fashion in the world. Terrible, badly designed try-hard bullshit, spun out so far by PRs it seems to stretch right into your soul and suffocate your lust for life. There are endless queues, endless "streetstyle opportunities" and, in reality, very little genuinely interesting and well-made work.

At which point I'd like to turn your attention to Richard Nicoll, a London-based designer who has actual skill. The blending of textures and patterns mediated between minimal and Ricky Martin in the best possible way, blue python print was sexy and sleazy (what? That's a good thing) and the silhouettes were sharp and considered. It made me happy, and it make me splutter into my free bottled water. So I suppose it's all worth it, after all.

Follow Bertie on Twitter: @BertieBrandes

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