London Collections: Men – Last Resorts

Alexander Fury

Barely two weeks into my tenure as The Independent’s new Fashion Editor, the London menswear collections are about to begin. That means… well, that means next stop is Milan, and Paris, and then all over again for the girls. A whole new season, spring/summer 2014. The skies are barely blue this year, but our minds have already switched to think about what to sweat in next July. At least, in theory.

It’s not just the boys: designers have been showing their wares for women by way of Resort, one of those weird inbetweeny seasons that actually account for the majority of sales. Why? Because they get on the shop floors earlier, and hence stay off the sale rail for longer. Proenza Schouler once told me that pre-collection sales counted for over 70% of their business. It’s not to be sniffed at.

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A look from JW Anderson's 2014 Resort collection

I went to visit the designer Jonathan Anderson, who designs under the label JW Anderson, this Monday to preview his menswear for Sunday edition of this newspaper. While I was there I got the chance to paw through his resort racks, filled with pleated pleather, exposed seams and crinkly knits in black and off-whites. There was a bottle green, and a red so bright it hummed for a sweater that looped the neck and shoulder like a bandage. Or some bondage. There were also some filmy chiffon tops and more of those sweaters in post-it yellow and a candyfloss cerise, but J-Dubs (as many call him) had cut those. He likes a tight edit.

That’s one of his many strengths as a designer – knowing when he’s said enough. Another is knowing how to make stuff that people want not only to photograph and to wear, but to buy. It’s something that’s oddly missing amongst many other designers, even in the commercial realms of resort. Would you really part with a huge lump of cash for a flimsy beach cover-up? Nope. It may be called resort, but your design instincts can’t go on holiday.

That’s why JW Anderson’s collection spoke to me. It felt designed. I’ve flicked through the other resort collections – no shows, they’re presented informally in New York (Resort is a distinctly American conceit, as evidence by its seasonal counterpart, even dubbed ‘pre-Fall’ by many Brits).

I liked Alexander Wang’s play with proportions in his Balenciaga collection, the petal-shoulders tops abbreviated around the sternum and arching into great abstract shapes around the shoulder-blades. They look like something Jacqueline de Ribes may have worn in the early eighties. I’m not sure who will wear them now though, even over a shirt. The black and white prints felt old hat, a bit like last season Proenza Schouler, who incidentally showed something similar for their own resort.

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A look from the Rochas 2014 Resort collection

Over in Paris Alber Elbaz had been working with more colour than most for his Lanvin Resort. His washed-silk trousersuit in magenta looked a little like pyjamas, but in a good way rather than a particularly black episode of Nighty Night. I’m also a fan of Marco Zanini’s Rochas, who combined smooshed-silk ballgown skirts with cashmere-knit polo shirts and heavy clogs. It looked like it wasn’t trying too hard, which is a sensation you should always get from Resort. These kind clothes should be easy. You shouldn’t have to think so hard.

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