Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY A/W 2020 London Fashion Week Men’s
Scene setting: The restored Grand Hall of The Battersea Arts Centre – a Grade II listed building that dates back to the 1890s – was a fitting backdrop to Jeffrey’s pensive parade. A home to experimental community arts since the early 1970s, a fire in 2015 tore through its original roof, devastating its original features. When the space reopened to the public in 2018, architects Haworth Tompkins decided to keep the scorched walls as proof of the building’s storied history – a poignant patina to Simon Costin’s set that featured a giant tree studded with CDs at the head of the room. Above it, a giant disco ball reflected a phantasmagorical glitter snowstorm over the theatre’s wooden latticework ceiling. The scene was part church, part wonderland. Jeffrey’s cast worshipped in a post Ayahuasca haze. Mother nature collided with the thrum of a dark basement club.
Mood board: The energy oozing out of London’s creative communities is earnest and glum. Only last month, for the first time in history, the 2019 Turner Prize was shared between all four of the contenders on the shortlist; the climate activist Greta Thunberg dominates the headlines. Brexit looms ever closer despite its crystal unclear consequences. Ethics over egos, equality over extravagance – this is a strange landscape in which to be making clothes. Jeffrey has been wise to acknowledge that. The carousing of his earlier collections has been replaced with a more dystopian funk; the language of his show notes contained a darker realism: ‘An older, hidden, generation have made brutal calculations and we’ve inherited their catastrophe,’ they read. ‘This is a broken future.’ The designer is channelling a new politics of power rooted in play, poetry and plaid. The scrappy, exaggerated proportions took their cue from periods when youth were in revolt. 80s punk. Teddy boys. The pride of tartan. Scottish militia uniform. The bricolage rituals of the Orkney Islands. A pageant of ruffles, florals and thread.
Team work: Jeffrey is part of a generation of designers asking itself big questions under the glare of the world’s eyes. On each seat was Manifesto for Conscious Practice – a bullet pointed battle cry for transparency and ethical decency that will be updated and re-shared each season. A/W 2020’s tartans were produced by Lochcarron of Scotland who have been making the textile since 1892. The label’s jersey and shirting are now made from Global Organic Textile Standard cotton. Denims and dyes are digitally printed; trimmings upcycled. ‘LOVERBOY has always been about excess; fun-filled escapism from the banality of everyday life. But there are aspects of the everyday that we as a brand need to take a closer, more honest look at,’ it read. For the finale, each of the models walked out arm in arm, beaming optimistically into the crowd. §