For A/W17 Phoebe explored themes of tyranny, fear, apathy, voice, courage, unity, repair and ultimately hope. Through the instigation of this collection of characters, a narrative was spun and played out in the beautiful Fitzrovia Chapel. Phoebe wanted to present women as symbols of strength and resilience, our ‘heroines’ glorify a resistance. The models were adorned with decorative crowns and strewn with flora.
“My collections often stem from abstract origins such as a particular type of process or a feeling; this method aims to infuse my work with a conceptual aesthetic, offering luxury through idea”
English’s previous SS17 collection was a political one representing each day leading up to Brexit – which left no guess to her views on the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Autumn Winter 17 took a similar route, using what is going in current affair around the world – Trump becoming US President, feminism etc – to create a unique and imaginative collection. This season was all about women, power and perseverance and wishing to portray and celebrate unity over division and was explored throughout colour symbolism and an accumulation of textures and textiles.
Key fabrics in the collection included trapped golden woven sequins, velvet, silks, tulle, boucle wools and shirting cottons – within this collection Phoebe also presented pieces from her third collaboration with births knit wear heritage brand John Smedley – twisted draped knit piece were presented in both silk and felted merino. The basket weave inspired textiles for the collection which were trapped inside layers of tulle stood out to me immensely in the collection – they were incorporated within jackets and also varying sizes of bags.
This conversation between tyranny and unity aimed to explore both the fragility and the strength of our times, though the use of sheer fabrics we implement bold silhouettes which juxtapose with the delicate forms portraying our fragility. There was no denying the strength throughout the whole collection nor the message it was trying to portray and the inspiration in which it came.
This collection was one of many this season that held political statements about the worlds current affairs – and currently things are a bit shit at the moment lets be honest – and the designers opinion’s on this coming through heavily whether it be through the clothing, music choice or inspiration for the overall collection. I feel like this is a really important and influential time in fashion where designers are using their public profile and creative platform to the upmost – more of this please!
Me. You. Them. Us
No man has ever looked as sharp while doing their household chores.
So I recently finished a three month studio internship at Phoebe English where I got to experience so many different sides of the fashion industry – in the studio, backstage and at both AW17 menswear, which I’m going to be writing about today, and womenswear shows at London Fashion Week which I’ll be writing another blog post on as they each one had such different atmospheres, inspirations and context. Overall it was an amazing experience for me and I think that gaining that vital experience is key to progress and succeed within the industry and putting what you have learnt throughout University and adding to these key skills is essential.
Throughout the internship I worked on lots of different areas within the studio – working on patterns, cutting toiles and final garments out – and it was great to finally see all the separate pieces come together slowly and finally at the show, as well as seeing phoebe’s design process and work closely with her and the rest of the studio team on both the AW17 collections. I also got to work on tech packs for the AW17 MAN collection, visit factories and PR, work on production pieces for shops and develop textiles for the womenswear collection. It was great to develop and apply my skills from university in an industry environment as well as gaining knowledge on how a studio runs and the business side of fashion which is extremely important.
Phoebe was inspired by all “the creative men” in her life and this inspiration also saw a union of romanticism and pragmatism. The key focus of the AW17 collection was practicality, displaying a range of utilitarian pieces with a relaxed and casual aesthetic. Soft lined bombers, loose fitting striped shirts and casually tailored trousers alongside longline shirts and outerwear pieces. The fabrics ranged from dusty velvets, waxed coated cottons and corduroy – the double layered bomber and matching jogger trouser in black corduroy was one of my favourite outfits from the whole collection. The adjustable bags and backpacks and the addition of joggers bought a comfortable sporty edge but with a luxe feel because of the use of fabrics and colour palette. The other stand out pieces for me personally in the collection were the navy waxed cotton coat, hooded tunic jacket and striped longline belted shirt.
The key colours of Phoebe English MAN AW17 ranged from charcoal and military dark green to subtle tones of navy which were all paired with elements of off white to retain aspects of versatility, crispness and break up the textures of the fabrics and tie the whole collection together. With the use of tradition colours it allowed experimentation of creative cuts and clever use of fabrics offered in layered outfits – being complex in its technique with interesting pleats and lines throughout.
The show was an amazing visual spectacle with the set and props being key to setting the mood – the models went through reptile motions of different domestic chores – sweeping pegs, ironing and folding sheets and hanging socks in an endless rotation matching the trip hop beat in the background – this brought a comic surreal reality to the presentation – the fact that all the models were in movement reflects the brand ethos whilst underlying the practicality of the garments – who knew household chores could look and be so fashionable?
Are Feminine Silhouettes the Future of Mens Fashion?
Designers are increasingly morphing and blurring the lines between males and females. In the silhouettes, cut and fabrics they use. Fashion design giants including Vivienne Westwood, Burberry and Jean Paul Gaultier have all designed skirts for men in a way to push boundaries and explore ideas. The fashion industry in itself has to be exciting and constantly developing new concepts and silhouettes.
Men’s Fashion Week in London saw much controversy over the garments that designers chose to show on the catwalk, particularly JW Anderson. His Autumn Winter 13 collection was dominated by feminine inspired shorts, shift dresses and shell tops in colours of camel, navy and baby blue. Although the collection itself caused controversy in what the models were actually wearing the fabrics; sponge,rubberised cotton and duffel are not controversial textures. Duffle in particular is an extremely traditional and classic fabric to use within menswear. The reaction to Anderson’s collection was immense and the controversy that it caused meant it was shown around the world on news stations including CNN and BBC News.
“Examination of bourgeois kinkiness and boudoir perversity” was how Anderson summed up the collection in his show notes. The fact that sexual and revealing clothing can be shown in womenswear and not mens shows the naivety and uneasy feeling that people still have towards men being dressed in a sexual way. The idea of men wearing clothing like this is just that, ’an idea’, it is presenting a possibility for people and consumers to digest and distil in their own personal way. This ‘idea’ will be filtered down throughout the levels of fashion from designer to high street. Another reason why people may have felt uneasy about the collection was that all the male models looked and felt like they were comfortable in what each of them where wearing.
Personally the aspect that I focus on is the technical and precision of all the garments; with the neckline being developed through stapling and the darts being brought towards the front of the garment so the back hovered, like suspended architecture. Jacket blocks were reversed so that the shoulders sat forward creating a smooth, sculptural line. I feel that all these elements were overshadowed by the reaction to the pieces being shown in menswear. JW Anderson is known for bringing over concepts from season to season and from womenswear to mens. This collection was in the end a development and evolutional structure from his previous resort collection.