Given the recent upheavals in the British fashion industry, and in Britain itself, it was perhaps not much of a surprise that many of the 120 designers who showed their goods during the four-day event that closed here on Monday took their inspiration from notions of comfort and nostalgia.
The innovative J. W. Anderson, who spoke of “falling into a womb of fashion,” dispatched a procession of models in multilayered, oversize knits and chunky outerwear pieces.
“Something cozy and deeply protective,” he added, during his backstage talk, to describe his offerings for the men’s fall 2017 season, “where the buildup of a wardrobe can almost become part of a defense mechanism. Like a modern armor.”
You couldn’t blame Mr. Anderson for seeking a measure of protection in an environment that is changing quickly — and not necessarily for the better in the field of men’s wear.
In recent seasons of men’s wear shows here, Burberry, Coach and Alexander McQueen were the headliners. All three were absent this time around.
A big-budget affair with live music, the Burberry show had always attracted celebrities who added flash and glamour to the front row, as the lanky models loped down the runways. How things have changed. Now Britain’s biggest luxury brand by sales has decided to show men’s and women’s offerings together during the week mainly focused on women’s wear, scheduled to take place here in February. Coach has withdrawn from the men’s schedule, while Alexander McQueen has opted to show its collection in a presentation in Milan.
And so a scrappier bunch of designers, including the upstart Grace Wales Bonner, moved into the fashion spotlight, ready or not.
The makeup of the audience was different this time around, too. Tighter budgets at fashion publications and department stores in Europe and the United States meant fewer high-profile international fashion editors and retail buyers in the front row. At the same time, according to the British Fashion Council, attendance from Chinese buyers increased by 175 percent.
Days of chilly weather, with intermittent rain, and a strike that paralyzed the London Underground on Monday hardly helped matters. Even some of the regular street-style photographers — usually sidewalk stalwarts — appeared to have stayed away.
And so the resulting mood felt, well, somewhat dampened, particularly in a city whose fashion community has long prided itself on its sense of humor and party spirit.
Belstaff put on a naval-influenced presentation, inspired by the British Royal Navy uniforms from a more heroic age, that included clothing for both men and women. Craig Green also went the nautical route, using the hardy garments of old-time British mariners as a starting point. Think fisherman’s hats and raincoats, along with multipocketed workwear offerings, the sort that helped him establish his name in seasons past.
Meanwhile, Christopher Shannon packed a clever and pugilistic punch by dressing his models in sharp streetwear classics emblazoned with rewrites of familiar logos — only to have them sport shredded flags across their faces. The intention, he later said, was to emphasize fears around Britain’s looming sociopolitical isolation following its vote to leave the European Union and the seeming crumbling of international relations.
Ms. Wales Bonner, the much-touted new name on the London men’s wear scene and the winner of the 2016 LVMH prize, provided an uplifting ode to her home city with a celebration of its mixed immigrant communities and music from Notting Hill Carnival, London’s annual celebration of Caribbean culture, played through a sound system.
With its mash-up of various cultures, Ms. Wales Bonner’s catwalk served as a lyrical tribute to the perhaps-fading notion of a cosmopolitan Britain. And so we had a model in a billowing white robe breezing past one wearing a tailored houndstooth duffel jacket. Also in the mix were tweed duster coats, harlequin leathers, slinky beaded tops and tracksuits cut from silk.
“I wanted to treat everything with the same level of attention and give different cultures a similar value,” Ms. Wales Bonner said. “For me, it was about celebrating diversity.”
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