As a label whose bold theatrics and club kid statement pieces usually take us on a rollercoaster ride through London’s queer nightlife, it was a surprisingly early start for Art School this morning with the opening slot of London Fashion Week Men’s. That’s not to say they didn’t kick things off with a bang.
Taking place in an industrial hall at LFWM’s new home in the Old Truman Brewery, billowing clouds of smoke were pumped down the runway from which models emerged – twirling and dancing in what is arguably Art School’s most refined collection yet. There was, as always, brilliant eveningwear: this time with the label’s newly coined ‘dagger dresses’, cut on the bias in sequins or black silk and extending below the knee into a sharp point. Alongside the more radical looks featuring slashed hoodies and velvet skirts, there were plenty of desirable separates (silk blouses with sailor bows, skirts covered in gold paillettes) that will be catnip for their increasing following across all genders.
Indeed, it’s easy to question why Art School are showing as part of the men’s calendar, when realistically the bulk of their collections end up largely worn by women. But the designer duo behind the brand, Tom Barratt and Eden Loweth, are vocal about their intentions to represent their genderless milieu in the world of high fashion – and their profound understanding of the idiosyncrasies of queer bodies is what makes their work both special and necessary.
An example comes via their bias-cut dresses, produced in fabrics with a light stretch to account for the mutable nature of the transitioning or non-binary body, ready to accommodate the wearer on a journey from masc to femme or vice versa. Their instinct for loose tailoring flatters figures across the entire gender spectrum, and bodies of all shapes and sizes. It’s a smart approach to design that provides a neat riposte to those questioning their relevance within the sphere of menswear: Who cares where they choose to position themselves in the fashion week cycle? There’s nobody else out there producing beautiful clothing for queer bodies with this level of thoughtfulness – and their fans and followers will know where to find them.
GALLERYBackstage at this show
GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show