MAN Spring/Summer 2016 Menswear
As of this season, MAN has been championing London’s menswear for 10 years, and the list of alumni is a testament to just how influential the show has been (and will hopefully continue to be). J.W. Anderson, Craig Green, Christopher Shannon, Astrid Andersen, and, of course, Kim Jones are some of the names that have made—and are continuing to make—London such a potent force in men’s fashion. A short film looking back at the decade was greeted with cheers and patriotic pride. Rightfully so. This season there was no new name on the roster, instead it was the third and final outing for Liam Hodges and the sophomore effort for Rory Parnell Mooney.
Parnell Mooney had taken the Russian avant-garde painter Kazimir Malevich as his starting point and sure enough, there were abstract, geometric shapes in the form of cutouts and accessories—earpieces and armbands—but as the designer explained after the show, it was more the idea of art as protest that attracted him. “There is something uncontrolled underneath the geometry,” he said backstage, an element that was expressed in heavy pleated appendages swinging from legs, hips, and chests, as well as gray knitted tunics and dresses (these came in a pattern described as “white noise” by the designer).
Even if some people might not warm to the idea of out-of-control clothing, the idea of unruliness was intriguing—and some pieces (like the beige canvas anorak with unfinished hems and the knits) felt like they could quite easily find a home in many men’s wardrobes. But Parnell Mooney seems more of a natural when he works with transparency, rather than architecture: Some of the pieces were a bit difficult to imagine outside of a fashion shoot. It may be in the softer pieces that the designer has more of a USP. Just ponder the coat that looked like it had just been attacked by a swarm of moths. Firstly, it seemed like a genius solution to a real problem in a country where wall-to-wall carpeting is still common—it’s hard to imagine a better defence against moths than preemptive clothing. Secondly, it was covetable. But then, who isn’t a sucker for faded glamour?
Hodges was also interested in disobedience, as his collection looked to pirate radio for guidance. Backstage, the designer stressed that this was a very positive collection, though—”summer chill,” as he phrased it. The relaxed vibe had its strongest expression in fresh-looking printed soccer gear (the pirate radio was broadcasting to the soccer kids, according to the show notes).
The collection was Hodges’ strongest outing so far, and it looked challenging yet easy to wear—a balance that is very hard to strike. Nineties rave posters and club flyers and pirate radio studio walls informed the prints; trousers came in loose-fitting and tapered shapes. Hodges often uses jacquard in great ways, and this season he worked with appliqué and let teal, black, and electric blue hues bleed out into camouflage paint on the bodies of the models. You could see those relaxed summer vibes give way to a more savage undertone, a hint of the wild nature underneath the surface. It takes intelligence to make DIY aesthetics look this good, and Hodges is clearly on the Mensa scale in that regard.