There was very little to rant and rave about the latest edition of London Fashion Week Men's. The very few critics left blamed it on the lack of important names and brands such as Burberry and JW Anderson that combined the men and women's wear shows three seasons ago, while Craig Green was invited by Pitti Uomo (but will he remain in London next season, move to Paris or drop out of the fashion circus to focus on more arty projects that would suit him better?) and Grace Wales Bonner who favoured private appointments over a catwalk presentation.
The more optimistic commentators claimed this actualy allowed to refocus on less known designers, but the truth is that there was very little to look at as if London may be losing the crown of "hotbed of geniuses", especially when it comes to menswear (mind you, this London Men's decadence has been going on for a few seasons). Critics tried to be encouraging about Samuel Ross' A-Cold-Wall, Cottweiler, Martine Rose and Xander Zhou (even though the latter sent out on the runway supposed transhuman pregnant men who looked as if they were actually wearing the belly-shaped bum bags you may easily find in the novelty sections of Amazon or Aliexpress...).
Young designers showcasing in London during the men's shows seemed to have a very limited knowledge when it comes to pattern cutting and fabrics/textiles. This means that quite often the results of collections hailed as incendiary and revolutionary by London supporters and by those representatives of the media desperately looking for the next Alexander McQueen, actually look extremely amateurish, especially when compared to what's on the runways in Milan or Paris.
Designer and performer Charles Jeffrey Loverboy is currently widely considered as one of the brightest young things in London, but his main problem is that he remains suspended between Vivienne Westwood (see the historical twist on his garments, but also the styling...), the London clubbing tradition of The Blitz kids and art in general.
For the S/S 19 collection he went for his usual genderless approach, but reshifted the attention on something new for him - athleisure - obviously reinvented following his own rules and canons.
The collection opened therefore with a fluorescent padded jacket that echoed the silhouettes of Haute Couture matched with black trousers, but soon switched onto tartan suits, floral trench coats and kilts accessorised with perilous wooden platforms designed in collaboration with British footwear-maker Rokit, and Rococo-like pannier designs borrowed from Jean-Honoré Fragonard's paintings, but supported by an underskirt of stuffed penis-like tentacles evoking the work of Louise Bourgeois.
There was an attempt at being commercial in the branded sweaters and rugby socks, but this may be dangerous ground for a young designer as it may reshift the discourse for Loverboy towards the dichotomy that eventually destroyed McQueen – presenting highly original catwalk shows, but actually selling infinitely less original pieces such as scarves with skull prints in his shops.
There were interesting moments when two models came out wearing a leather armour by Whitaker & Malem with a striped tunic underneath: they called to mind the living statue scene in Jean Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet, even though Jeffrey was trying to reference Lynn Chadwick's bronzework.
The final draped evening dresses featured instead tartan inserts and large appliqued swirls that made them look like Scottish revisitations of the costumes in Jean Dubuffet's "Cocou Bazar".
Things would have been more coherent if Jeffrey had stuck to the sculptural inspiration maybe, but so far it is clear that the designer has a talent for theatrical pieces (even though even when it comes to theatrical presentations he will have to start discovering more elaborate materials rather than just silver-foil and cardboard...), and if he ever drops out of the fashion industry to opt for costume design, he will probably find a much more successful career. As things stand he will have to recalibrate his ebullient madness to make sure his (at times useless) props do not hide the clothes.
Elsewhere Hussein Chalayan was inspired by different forces such as the tension between different cultures and between men's assaults and women's resistance in narratives such as the ancient Roman story of the Sabines' abduction and rape.
The dichotomy between the two forces was symbolised by tailored elements such as the collars of trench coats that formed a crisscrossing motif on the body of the wearer.
Jackets with wide collars hinted at a force trying to grab somebody from behind, while the sash-like straps that linked trousers and jackets ending in pockets and bags attached to the pants and the neatly folded motifs that evoked Japanese origamis, hinted at protection and safety.
Sadly for the British capital, Loverboy's chaotic riot of historical designs and inclusive freedom and Chalayan's conceptual tailored moods may not be enough to justify the existence of London Fashion Week Men's. In a way it wouldn't be suprising if this were the last edition of the event, but, if it falls, more will follow, after all the season of the fashion shows is dramatically coming to an end, no matter what the pictures of your favourite influencer sitting in the front rows may tell you. As for young designers, well, we should let them grow, mature and develop their own style, before calling them hybrid geniuses producing innovative designs for the next transhuman generation.