Stefan Cooke, Rottingdean Bazaar and Art School made up the three-part MAN show this season. Launched in 2005 by Topman and Fashion East, the initiative gives emerging designers an invaluable platform to showcase their originality to key industry players.
The ennui of adolescent summers was the starting point for Stefan Cooke’s latest lineup, Luxury of Boredom. The second collection by Cooke and partner Jake Burt, explores a nostalgic longing for lazy days filled with playful adventures.
Focus is placed on wearability and tailoring with eccentric details: plumes of ostrich feathers are worn as belts – the kind you’d find whilst raiding the dressing up box – suggesting an awkward masculine glamour. Bias-print tartan is a staple, appearing on form-fitting trousers, jackets and coats. Shakespearean frills line t-shirt collars, while printed pearl necklaces adorn satin tops, peeping through cutouts cardigan-necklines. Alluding to the monotony of everyday objects, chainmail tops are handcrafted from up to 7000 suit buttons; a trompe l’oeil image of a cable-knit jumper is printed on paper and fashioned artistically to a tabard.
Quality tailoring is not lost amongst the experimental detailing, which is perhaps why they’ve already landed major stockists like Dover Street Market, Opening Ceremony and Joyce. Less than a year old, this young label is pushing the boundaries of quintessentially ordinary items without losing its poise.
Rottingdean Bazaar was established by design-duo James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks. Their SS’19 show takes on a conceptual route, based on their brand ethos of using found objects to inform their collections. This season, models wear costumes from fancy dress suppliers all over the UK: a pumpkin, the planet Earth and a silver star were amongst other outlandish outfits with large placards reading slogans like ‘for rent.’ Raising the satirical states, the show was a commentary on the apparent absurd shallowness of the industry; or was it more a skathing attack on fashion’s obsession with appropriation?
Led by Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt, Art School aims to redefine gendered ready-to-wear fashion. Their latest collection, High Concept Character, focuses on the gender queer body, through fluid design and soft tailoring. Trans activists like Munroe Bergdorf crawl, fall and perform down the runway in sequin asymmetric tops, silver-foiled trenches and strappy dresses. Interestingly, double-breasted tuxedo suits and dainty satin slip dresses use bias-cut techniques to supposedly ensure a more comfortable fit for their transgender wearers.