There was a party at Fashion East this season. New kid on the block Charles Jeffrey had brought his club night and creative community, named Loverboy, to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, letting dressed-up girls and boys dance on the raised podium to Spice Girls and other pop gems. Scattered among them was his collection, with paint-splattered jeans, an electric blue cashmere coat, and a classic white shirt (only with a dropped pocket and T-shirt sleeves). Some of the pieces had been made in collaboration with Savile Row tailor Chittleborough & Morgan.
In the press release, Jeffrey described Loverboy—the name of the collection and ongoing party—as more about communicating a world than a seasonal project. “Fashion is bogged down by a focus on the product at the moment,” he told us. “Young brands often have to be so perfect, and this is a reaction to that.
Taking his aesthetics to Savile Row, Jeffrey was interested in seeing his sensibilities interpreted by traditionalist tailors. “Kids get stuff from a charity shop and it doesn’t fit perfectly, but they still make it look chic,” he said, explaining his thinking. Jeffrey seemed to want to revive the old connection between British fashion and club life, and spoke of how he had been following clubs like Boombox over the Internet from his family home in Scotland. “Clubbing is a remedy, a remedy to what’s going on in fashion today,” he said.
The mood at Grace Wales Bonner’s presentation upstairs was much more serene. Bonner’s second presentation at Fashion East was equally, if not more, thrilling than the last one. Taking as its starting point the incredible journey of Malik Ambar, a 16th-century Ethiopian destitute who became a ruler in India, it was a collection that mixed both African and Indian male clothing.
“I went on a trip to Senegal and wanted to incorporate found objects,” said the designer. “At the same time, James Baldwin’s personal style was important, it was always so specific and sensual.” The collection featured terry cloth shirts, wide linen trousers, Nehru collars, and embroidery made with Swarovski crystals and pearl shells—offering lots of very wearable options for guys (and gals).