SKELTON’S SELECTIONS: London men’s designer John Alexander Skelton, who shows his collections mid-season and off the official calendar, sent out his fall 2017 lineup on Friday evening at the Sarabande Foundation in East London. Skelton’s third collection was a mash-up of well-constructed layer-able outerwear and knitwear pieces done in rich fabrics.
The designer said he was influenced by BBC Radio 4 broadcaster Melvyn Bragg’s “The Radical North” segment, which touched on the campaign for women’s votes, antislavery protests and the birth of Britain’s Labour Party. Skelton also looked to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 in the north of England, which saw a workers’ protest end in massacre by the military, sparking retaliation by groups such as the Chartists and the Suffragettes.
“Between the workers and the very heavy folklore references, this [was] a guiding light for me,” Skelton said. “The workers were mainly hand-loom weavers [while] Peterloo influenced different movements.”
Male models of varying ages walked around an installation of candles that rested on wooden podiums. They recited verses written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in reaction to Peterloo. The designer draped various swathes of cloth on the floor and on walls to make the room look like a secretive meeting hall — one of the places where workers during that time would gather.
Skelton emphasized handwork in his range, with knitted and crochet pieces done in wool from Shetland and Yorkshire. A long-knitted overcoat was layered over red plaid pants, while a brown hand crochet knit sweater was paired with brown tartan trousers. Pattern came in the form of a tartan belonging to an Irish Chartist leader.
He used corduroy — the material was tied to working class radicals in the era — for a long gray jacket worn over gray French linen trousers. The designer said he experimented with trouser fabric and treated it to look like he’d cleaned a bicycle with it — which gave it a tie dye effect. He also repurposed corduroy trousers into a long brown overcoat worn over pants of a similar hue.
He reworked late 19th and early 20th century fustian pants into patchwork coats. The patchwork style was seen on a button-down top done in military hues with plaid trousers and a red plaid hat. Skelton collaborated with Stephen Jones once again on hats that were influenced by the folklore, with a tartan style fashioned as a soft conical hat.