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London Collections: Men began with a bang in the subtlest of ways. Three ultra-slick, tailored menswear collections walked the runway in the fashion capital: Lou Dalton, Richard Nicoll and Gieves & Hawkes. Their individual merits were myriad, albeit with a common thread that connected the disparate aesthetics. The collections heavily featured monochromatic looks: whether it was varying shades of the same color, or the same exact hue of a color rendered in different textures and layers, it was a visual treat to see designers put such an inspired twist on color.
Lou Dalton doused her collection in one of my favorite color combinations: brown, ivory, black and blue. The subtle but interesting colors came splashed across looks that spanned the gamut of dress from slim three-piece suits to cropped suede jackets layered over jeans and black combat boots. In typical Dalton fashion, though, the collection was given a jolt of color with bright pinks rendered in a tie-dye treatment that came in a matching pant-button-up combination. The designer even threw a shocking red on a knitted Fair Isle sweater (don’t forget a dose of camouflage for good measure).
While the bleached light-wash denim seemed to be a nostalgic outlier in an otherwise contemporary menswear collection, Dalton used them to add a much-needed touch of diversity to the otherwise solid-colored, wide-legged pants shown with the other looks—without them, the tops and outwear really would have carried her team this season. The full-colored looks included the aforementioned three-piece suits and all-black slouchy suits in the finale, with subtle nods in full-on ivory and bone looks (which I could never wear without getting anxious about spilling something on them). Full denim was awash (pun intended) and shone from underneath black outerwear.
I’ve always associated Richard Nicoll’s man as one of utility but not without a sense of quirkiness. Last season, he preferred brighter blues and oranges, and evidently would like men to comply with the quasi-neon theme throughout Fall 2014. Yellows and greens and reds, oh my! The brightness of these basic colors in prints, pants, plaids, and more were only tempered by the complimenting wardrobe pieces in sable brown, chocolate, grey-beige (dare I say, greige?), and black.
The color combinations were complimented by the monochromatic looks that came in the form of several different shades of the same color. In one look, a shirt with various shades of red stripes was topped off with wine-colored trousers and a thick, crimson overcoat. A blue mish-mosh of florals adorned a bomber jacket that was accompanied by blue-grey harem pants. Even featuring a pink and oxblood gingham print, this collection wasn’t one for the weak. And while some of the finale looks featuring ruffled button-up shirts seemed more Behind the Candelabra than Covent Garden, as a whole this collection was polished despite its punchiness.
Gieves & Hawkes brought the old school into the new world with a collection that was contemporary without sacrificing its classic roots. Tweed overcoats and tailored grey trousers were more business than bombastic, making it the most office-ready of the three collections discussed here.
Don’t fear, though, as these classics don’t come without some current twists: fur trimmed collars of woolen overcoats, and there was even a peacock print present on a gentleman’s vest layered over a pleated shirt and bow tie. And, this being fall, there was plenty of leather to go around—both in the form of overcoats as well as shorter jackets with a thick belt that created a nipped-waist look. The monochromatic elements here were a matter of print—the plaids matched in looks in unexpected ways (a blazer featured the same green and beige plaid as the button-up underneath that poked through a gray sweater) and one look was taken to the next level with a bright red blazer and a burgundy tie that played off one another and really popped against the rest of the outfit, which was black and white.
London Collections: Men have proved that things can be so different, unique, and interesting, while still retaining the same in essence. The way that these designers have mastered pairing different shades in new and exciting ways is truly something to look forward to for Fall 2014. Looks like the streets of London will be given a decidedly Spring-worthy dose of much-needed color.