Fashion
  • Text Sara Semic
  • 8th January 2019

modern masculinity

Amidst all the spectacle we’ve come to associate with the London men’s shows, Bianca Saunders’ sparse, stripped-back setting was an antidote to the mad and flamboyant. Showing at the luxe Mayfair townhouse, 5 Carlos Place, as part of a MATCHESFASHION.COM ‘See now, Buy now’ showcase, Saunders’ FW19 collection built on the theme of black male identity that has formed the bedrock of her young label, but within a more intimate context.

Titled Unravelling, the collection was set in a simulacrum of a modern bedroom, with mattresses and chairs strewn across the floor, upon which sculpted, statuesque models reclined whilst the languorous pop-synths of Blood Orange – who Saunders namechecks as a muse – filled the space. “It’s about being vulnerable and having intimate conversations with friends,” Saunders said backstage. Drawing on her background growing up in South London with West-Indian heritage, the young designer has made it her mission to challenge the norms surrounding black hyper-masculinity, and there was a subtle sensuality infused into the collection: slinky mesh-detailed vests revealed flashes of skin and copper-coloured glitter shimmered on the models’ chiselled cheekbones and foreheads, mimicking the idea of “sweating slightly, and that kind of sexual tension” Saunders explained.

Silhouettes were scrunched up, with twisted seams and elasticated shirring elevating the shirts to modern proportions. A jumper was tied nonchalantly around the torso like a cross-body bag, aligning with the way the men who Saunders designs for self-style irl. There were more of her signature fabrics – nylons, denim and jersey – as well as structured leather outerwear and straight-leg chocolate leather trousers that built on a pair from her graduate collection.