Man Men’s Spring 2019

The single theme running through the three collections at the Topman-sponsored Man group show was dressing up. From Stefan Cooke’s off-kilter elegance to Art School’s High Concept Characters and Rottingdean Bazaar’s frivolous costumes, the season was certainly theatrical.

STEFAN COOKE

Cooke, winner of the H&M young designer prize and the L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award, founded the brand with partner Jake Burt after graduating from the Central Saint Martins M.A. course last year.

His second outing for Man was a nostalgic exploration of the summer holidays of his youth, eagerly anticipated but ending in a state of ennui, with days spent doing nothing but indulging creative impulses and foraging through the dressing-up box. Maybe throwing a feather boa on with jeans and a T-shirt, maybe borrowing an older brother’s suit.

That meant a focus on tailoring and outerwear, with suits embellished with inlaid Perspex studs in naïve floral clusters, a jazzy tartan ensemble topped with a trompe l’oeil cable-knit vest, and well-cut trousers styled with striking ostrich feather belts. It was a sophisticated collection that established Cooke as a designer with a strong point of view.

ROTTINGDEAN BAZAAR

Designers James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks turned everyday items into costumes. Actual costumes. And the effect was hilarious, if not entirely what the average person would call fashion.

There was a model dressed as a corn cob, complete with green husk. Another wore a Christmas cracker. There was a worm, a silver star, a chicken, a pumpkin, even a Vincent Van Gogh, complete with severed ear affixed to his painter’s smock.

The “For Rent” placards carried by the models stated each costume’s name, and the name and the web address of a costume store. Of course, these looks were original, not rented, and wonderfully wacky.

ART SCHOOL

For their final Man show, Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt sent out a collection titled “High Concept Character,” another feisty affirmation of gender nonconformity.

Transgender models, including Munroe Bergdorf, and a diverse supporting cast put on a fierce performance in looks that ran the gamut from sparkly party dresses to demure ankle-grazing shifts. But all that brouhaha couldn’t detract from a collection that showed a shrewd eye for commercial success.

The tailoring was handsome and dresses answered myriad wardrobe demands, from the demure to the dazzling to the downright saucy (see the dangerously low-cut strapless dress in black patent leather).

A silver trenchcoat stood out for its over-the-top elegance, while the Nineties-ish spaghetti-strap dresses in black silk and an asymmetric green sequined dress had broad red carpet appeal.

Launch Gallery: MAN Men's Spring 2019

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