Though Christopher Shannon grew up in Liverpool, he’s lived most of his adult life in London, a fact that’s left him with a darkly romanticised view of off-the-grid life. “I’m quite fascinated by how I was so repulsed by suburbia as a child and now I crave a certain stability and normality that it represents,” the designer told us before yesterday’s FW16 show. “I had this clip in mind of this old, VHS footage of the suburbs where I grew up, focusing on how kind of unassuming but creepy it was with double-glazing and net curtains.” That weirdness is inherently Shannon. He’s the master of mundane, making clothes that draw magic out of the traditionally unexciting realities of lower-middle class life; of crap towns, sad teens and football clubs.
Anyway, if you’re not into legs, Shannon’s not for you. He brought back his daring gym shorts and signature poppers (the latter were tight skivvies zipped so high they grazed jaws, double-barrel-layered under sports kit windbreakers). Dated and clashing brilliantly with that shocking pink vinyl jacket and those pocket accents on shirts. He’s a sucker for fluro and here it channeled the mad style of Shannon’s childhood idols (babysitter’s boyfriends – not boy bands, mind) would wear, really sticking out back in Liverpool. Paired with bleach perfect Reeboks, of course.
It was all shown at Alison Jacques Gallery, Shannon’s usual catwalk format shaken up and tipped into a static space. He’s been thinking a lot about movement and environment, recently having collaborated with visual artist Linder Sterling on dancers’ clothes for the Northern Ballet Company’s Children of the Mantic Stain. Experiencing those rehearsals shed new light on the relationship between space and the body.
Another relationship that’s clearly been knocking about Shannon’s head is that of us and the fashion industry itself – yearning for a pre-internet time when the high street wasn’t chock full of stolen and recycled ideas and getting dressed meant putting some thought into what went on your back. Individuality has, on so many levels, become something of a relic in this digital age and it’s a loss that plagues this designer. The dad jeans, stud-closure tracksuits and see through shopping bags herald that kind of carefree character – and crucial message. They also remind us how important designers like Shannon are for fashion’s future.
GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show