There was a spirit of rebellion at the Topman-sponsored Man show, which spotlighted three emerging London labels: Art School, Rottingdean Bazaar and Stefan Cooke. They all set out to pose questions about everything from gender stereotypes to the absurdity of the fashion industry through their collections.
Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt, the creative duo behind Art School, sought to redefine the “limitations of gendered fashion” with a diverse casting that included mostly transgender models, as well as women of different sizes and nationalities. They modeled soft tailored pieces, paired with corsetry, slinky satin slipdresses and barely there nude chiffon tops — nothing strikingly new, yet the diverse casting gave the clothes a new sense of empowerment.
A series of hand-sewn crystal and sequin evening dresses at the end also inspired a sense of exuberance and freedom.
Rottingdean Bazaar, the East Sussex-based label by James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks, employed a quintessentially British sense of humor to make its voice heard: an oversize T-shirt was printed with the words “We Do Big Sizes,” sweatpants were covered in badges that looked like giant sequins while a textured red tunic had a giant “Sale” sign on it. But the audience was most amused when the final model came out in a shredded dress carrying a cardboard cutout of Naomi Campbell. It was a wonderfully eccentric lineup that captured the spirit of the British capital.
Next up, Stefan Cooke, a recent Central Saint Martins graduate and winner of the H&M Design Award, offered a fresh perspective on men’s wear staples, which he re-created using innovative fabrics and sustainable production techniques. Cooke printed photos of secondhand jeans onto synthetic trousers and created knits by pulling the threads out of polyester fabrics. His take on tailoring included slim-fitted suits made by hand-linking diamond-shaped panels.