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The spirit of Sun Ra, who passed away in 1993, was very much present today in the chunky knit skull caps, the square-shaped statement sunglasses, and the exuberant tie-dye shirts that were custom-made in Japan. Jazz music has been having a renaissance in London, with a spate of new club nights in the south of the city. Designer Grace Wales Bonner is among the new generation of jazz heads, and she invited Gil Scott-Heron’s longtime musical partner, Brian Jackson, to play alongside Solange at her Devotional Sounds event in New York last month. As the hype beast–driven streetwear movement hurtles toward saturation point, it’s menswear designers like Daley in London and Emily Bode in New York who are edging ahead with a new, more soulful approach to making clothes, one with an emphasis on craft and community. The show ended on a high note when the entire audience was invited to dance with the band—models, editors, and buyers all let go of their inhibitions. Fashion shows don’t get more fun or inclusive than that. “The collection has respect for tradition and heritage,” said Neil Barrett backstage before his show. “But at the same time, it has a break-the-rules kind of attitude.” Known for his sharp, inventive tailoring, mostly in black and white, today’s show felt like the designer celebrating a more youthful spirit and a more diverse, energetic, and exploratory approach. Case in point was the show space, usually stark and minimal. This season Barrett worked with South African artist-in-residence Jody Paulsen creating compelling visuals covering the entirety of the glossy floor, inducing an immersive, almost trippy feel. Paulsen also worked with the designer on creating artworks. A kind of new heraldry and fictional ‘Old Boy’ crest decorated garments, echoing college scarves, conveying a youthful spirit slashed with a street vibe. Boxy tops and cropped shorts punctuated the collection, counterbalanced by the play on hybrids, which are one of Barrett’s distinctive style traits. Finely executed and displaying the designer’s skilled tailoring technique and inventive repertoire, they were the collection’s strongest point. Empire and colonial troops didn’t always wear red uniforms, often using whatever color was available locally. Back before everything turned khaki, British artillery units would wear blue uniforms and, in Napoleonic times rifle regiments, such as the 95th and 60th wore green uniforms, possibly because they had their origins in the French and Indian war (part of the seven years war).
Raincoats were mixed with hunting jackets; bombers were blended with truck tops; sweatshirts joined with leather jackets in new imaginative shapes. Even the shoes were given a hybridized treatment, with a new sneaker fusing skateboard and basketball styles and mismatched colors. The show finale embraced the uplifting mood, with a futuristic ghetto blaster incorporated into a sleek black backpack. “You can carry it around and have a full, major party anytime, anywhere,” enthused Barrett. Nanushka designer Sandra Sandor named her second menswear collection and first Paris presentation Come As You Are, but lest this instantly leads you to the Nirvana classic, she was tapping into a state of mind. “When your intention is not so much to impress with your dressing, but much more about daring to express your style,” she explained. Sandor elaborated that vacations are most conducive to this, as you’re usually less preoccupied with how others perceive you. And so, from a school courtyard that evoked a private oasis in Rome, male models (and a few girls, too) looked to be on a holiday that might have taken place in the 1950s, only on closer inspection, their outfits were all updated and very much urban in attitude. The main giveaway: her recalibrated volumes—jackets were slouchier and sportier, shorts signaled city rather than the beach, and the styling felt pleasingly off-the-cuff. Beyond this, batik and woodblock digital prints had a convincing handmade touch and brought liveliness to certain looks that otherwise leaned too beige. “Bohemian minimalist,” was how the Budapest-based designer put it. Sandor has been sustainability-minded since the beginning, and her application of vegan leather to tailoring was a justified point of pride. Given the finesse of the pants, shirt, and windbreaker-style jacket in feel and in fit she could push even further into the category and make it a real signature. The jacket in crocheted leather, for now just a prototype, would suggest she’ll have more to show off next season, whether or not she returns to Paris. The outfits she wore for her wedding were gorgeous and are probably amongst everyone’s favorites. However, I think that 90% of her outfits are elegant so it’s really difficult to choose. Narrowed it down to these three. Every color really suits her but my favourite is the light blue outfit, I think she looks stunning. would rely on my radiant beauty to make them swoon at my feet. I haven’t tried a ball gown before. A wedding dress, once, when I did a Madonna impersonation for a spoof of “Like a Virgin.” Nobody who watched that was capable of combat for several minutes thereafter. I bet I’d be even more devastating in a gown. You are in a ball gown at an event when it is attacked by enemy soldiers. What will you do since you are in the ball gown with no time to change, fight in it or rip some parts
Fashion and music have always gone together. For Nicholas Daley, though, the relationship between the two is especially symbiotic. His parents one Scottish, the other Jamaican ran a reggae club in the late 1970s and ’80s, so the designer was raised on a diet of dub, roots, and culture, and all the swaggering style that came with that. Since he launched his namesake label in 2015, Daley has incorporated a musical component into his presentations, usually intimate affairs. Staged in the lofty St. Mary-at-Hill Church in the financial district of London, his show this evening was his most ambitious and impressive to date. To set the tone, Daley invited the British jazz band Sons of Kemet for a jam session. Performances at fashion shows are nothing new, but it is rare to see musicians walk the runway while playing their instruments. Bandleader Shabaka Hutchings opened the show saxophone in hand, dressed in orange-and-brown cargo pants and a matching utility vest layered over a mesh tank. His bandmates followed shortly behind him, including the tuba player Theon Cross, who swept in wearing a poncho and Irish linen shorts. Daley is a stickler for details, down to the incense that’s custom-formulated in Japan to fit the vibe of each show. The clothes were just as considered, with cowrie shells hand-threaded through the eyelets of sneakers and charming knitted satchels. Speaking after the show, Daley took pride in underscoring the fact that he produces in the United Kingdom. As far as bigger-picture inspiration goes, all roads led back to the Sun Ra Arkestra. The hugely influential American jazz group has always had a dedicated following, but lately, its Afrofuturism vision has been resonating in mainstream culture with movies such as Black Panther and artists like Janelle Monae. The New Model Army, raised by parliament was the first professional army in England (professional units had existed prior to this) so much of their equipment, including uniform, was standardized. This is not exactly the redcoat of the British Empire but it’s where it started. Also, as the musket became the main battlefield weapon, identification of troops, at a distance, became critical. As I mentioned, from the mid 17th century onwards identification on the battlefield became increasingly important and each nation started to pick a color for its infantry. Often cavalry units would have a much wider variety of colors which probably reflected their generally higher level of wealth, as units, and perceived higher social standing. (Wellington said something along the lines that cavalry were merely there to make a battle look presentable).
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