Androgyny and subversion take centre stage at LCM

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Gone are the days where men’s fashion is overlooked, and quite frankly, a bit dull. Over the past few days, designers showcasing at London Collections Men Spring/Summer 2016 have distorted the accepted conventions of menswear, challenging its strong, serious image with wit, shock and subversion.

On Friday, Craig Green led the revolution, with a collection that shattered gender norms with his craftsmanship. Fabrics were twisted and gathered at either side of the chest, forming abstracted ruffled nipples. Large breast-sized holes were cut through knitwear, allowing sections of white cotton to cascade through them, cheekily alluding to female lactation. Delicate flourishes and empire lines further added to the androgyny of Green’s collection, outweighing a masculine martial arts undertone.

Craig Green m RS16 0739 Craig Green m RS16 0806

Craig Green S/S 2016

Man m RS16 1278 Man m RS16 1346

MAN S/S 2016

At MAN, Liam Hodges and Rory Parnell Mooney were inspired by the concept of disobedience and rebellion, taking Kazimir Malevich’s use of art as protest as a starting point. Geometric shapes, playful decoration, and men in skirts featured in this collection, expressing their own personal protest against typical menswear.

Deconstruction characterised Christopher Shannon’s collection, which featured shirts, bomber jackets and shorts cut apart and incompletely reassembled. An air of dishevelment was present, with foam smeared in the models’ hair as if they had been to a rave, with string bikini tops hanging from their necks.

Shannon m RS16 2246 Shannon m RS16 2485

Christopher Shannon S/S 2016

Sibling m RS16 3833 Sibling m RS16 3933

Sibling S/S 2016

On Saturday, the design team at Sibling showed a demolition of American college football stereotypes. The classic American “jock” was emasculated with glistening sequinned football jerseys and tiny underpants worn above the clothing. Male cheerleaders, with pom-poms in hand, graced the runway, along with football armour, laced like women’s corsets.

At Alexander McQueen on Sunday, Sarah Burton presented a collection inspired by Victorian Sailors. Yet, the androgynous tone to this season was still present, with delicate nautical prints, wide-legged culottes resembling skirts, and ultra-feminine ruffles elegantly adorning garments. Tailored suits, constructed from fabrics emblazoned with childlike Loch Ness Monster prints, formed the finale looks to this somewhat misinformed collection.

McQueen m RS16 5452 McQueen m RS16 5602

Alexander McQueen S/S 2016

Katie Eary m RS16 0172 Katie Eary m RS16 0180

Katie Eary S/S 2016

On Monday, sexual “humour” dominated Katie Eary’s collection, with prints featuring bizarre My Little Pony-esque cartoons with gigantic foot-long penises. Along with psychedelic gradient colours resembling an acid trip, the air of Eary’s rejection of the norm was evident. However, one must wonder when noncompliance goes too far. Yes, the collection was funny, in a weird way, but is this really fashion, or just some joke?

Public interest in men’s fashion has been on the rise in recent years. This seems to coincide with its designers becoming more experimental, challenging archetypical menswear styles, to give them a conceptual and artistic significance – something that has been done in womenswear for decades.

As the disparity of society’s gender roles slowly but surely shrinks, abstraction of the male sex is becoming increasingly accepted. For centuries the female image has been distorted in the arts, asserting male dominance in a patriarchal society. Lately, artists and designers have started to counteract this culture by attacking the powerful male image. LCM Spring/Summer 2016 exemplified this transformation, with fashion designers rebelling against the foundations of masculinity through their androgynous collections.

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Written by Katherine Beckwith

Katherine is a History of Art student with a keen interest in the history of fashion. Having a previous artistic education, Katherine also has a watchful eye for the emerging trends in modern fashion.

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