Meet the menswear front row

Experts share the inside track –who they’ve got high hopes for this season, what they love about London fashion and their  survival tips for show time – with Rebecca Gonsalves

Catherine Hayward: Fashion director, Esquire

Last season I particularly liked seeing well-established names such as Spencer Hart, Rake and Richard James take to the runways.

It’s always inspiring to see how more traditional or wearable pieces can be reinterpreted for fashion week.

The initial reception in June at  St James’s Palace was unbeatable. What a strong endorsement for the week and an injection of royal support for the menswear industry in general is just what it needs. Prince Charles looked suitably dapper in his Anderson & Sheppard navy suit as he talked to the line-up of nervous young designers assembled in the Palace.

The hot tickets this time around will be Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford. London Collections: Men (LC:M) is still in its infancy so the support of global labels in London is vital to its survival.

London offers ideas and a sense of humour that are really special – and restorative macaroni cheese at the counter at Mishkin’s in Covent Garden! Esquire is celebrating the launch of Hilfiger tailoring at a party this evening – it’s the perfect way to get all our industry friends and clients under one roof for a gossip, a catch-up and a drink.

Dylan Jones: Editor-in-Chief, GQ Style

I love the diversity of London shows – from Savile Row to Shoreditch and all points in between – that’s what we [Jones is chair of the BFC’s menswear committee] tried to reflect with LC:M. We weren’t trying to replicate the well-run machines of Milan, Paris or New York - they’re trade fairs when push comes to shove.

We also encouraged big American designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren to participate. Honestly, if you needed to show in Europe wouldn’t you rather show in London than Milan? Our economy is certainly in better shape. This isn’t a vanity exercise – we initiated it because of a genuine demand among British designers. For the second season we have fielded more calls than we’ve made.

This season I’m looking forward to seeing some of the new big names such as Vivienne Westwood, while having Tom Ford dump Milan for London is extremely gratifying. I’d love to tempt Burberry on to the London schedule too. Shall I say that again? Burberry!

My key autumn/winter buys are blue suits – as always – and hopefully that’ll be a trend that re-emerges.

David Gandy: Model

I don’t believe in following trends,  I think individuality is more important to focus on – but of course, being London fashion, the new season is sure to focus heavily on tailoring. Last season Hackett’s show stood out for me – I’ve admired what Hackett has been doing for a while and it represented what English style is quintessentially about.

We have such heritage here – from Vivienne Westwood to Savile Row. Last year, Prince Charles opened the collections – and that’s something the other fashion capitals just can’t compete with. The Royal Opera House is the most stunning show venue. It adds to the drama, too.

I hardly buy anything for winter. Once you get the essentials in your wardrobe you can add little touches in future years, but the staples stay the same. I have a couple of suits being tailored but that’s about it.

Being on the committee for LC:M I try to go to as many parties and events as possible and support as many people as I can, it’s just a pleasure to be part of it. We should be very proud that men’s fashion has a dedicated few days to really shout about what we can do.

Reece Crisp: Menswear buyer, Selfridges

Jonathan Saunders felt like a real standout show last season. It ticked  all the boxes – an amazing space, beautifully presented and a really strong collection. I think everyone’s looking forward to what he does next, too. I’m excited about the dinner we’re hosting for him in our Old Hotel space. It’s going to be something really special and different to the approach we’ve taken before.

It’s great to see Alexander McQueen on the schedule – it feels like proof, were it needed – that  LC:M is getting meaningful recognition at a global level. My real one-to-watch is Hunter Gather.

As a progression from the streetwear explosion in recent months, this time around, I think brands will move towards mixing streetwear and tailoring in a more cleverly considered way. Think suited-and-booted with an MA-1 bomber and a pair of sneakers.

I hate mess so I’m usually quite good at keeping my flat in shape at show time – we’ll see though, it’s the first time London has been this early in the season. I always decide what to wear in the morning – but comfy shoes and Berocca on hand at all times get me through the days.

Adam Welch: Editor, Wonderland

It was brilliant to see Meadham Kirchhoff doing menswear again, especially seeing as they went for a presentation. You wandered round this slightly creepy environment with models staring into nothing, surrounded by fagends and Cash-in-the-Attic-esque ornaments.  It was a great summing-up of what’s cool about London – ingenious, fun and all-out wrong. Another part of what is really great about it is that it’s not all mega-brands hosting book launches and cocktail parties with foie gras macaroons.

I don’t think London menswear is quite finished with the Nineties, so I imagine there’ll be a bit more of the slacker/grunge aesthetic this time around: rips, tie-dye, denim, florals. This is the first time Shaun Samson will have a standalone show and I’m sure he’s going to come up with something brilliant. I also think there’s another thread of razor-sharp sportswear that Richard Nicoll, Lou Dalton and Lee Roach did very nicely last season.

One of the blue macs from Richard Nicoll is top of my shopping list – or maybe a jacquard- knit suit from Missoni. I don’t know where I’d wear the latter but that’s not really the point is it?

Jodie Harrison: Editor, Mr Porter

I always enjoy the Oliver Spencer show. He makes great, wearable British menswear pieces and puts on a show that makes you actually want to buy the clothes – which is what it’s all about. His casting is also pitch-perfect: a group of cool blokes you would like to know.

I really loved E Tautz’s choice of venue last season, too. Lots of people grumbled and griped about the early morning trek to Wapping but we were all greeted with stunning, sun-drenched views of the Thames and Canary Wharf.

Retro sunglasses and spectacles are not going anywhere soon and for good reason – they just make men look cool. Oliver Peoples and Persol just keep getting better. The bomber jacket is another piece that shows no signs of losing favour.

We have this hotbed of young, creative upstarts. I actually think the recession has really fuelled London’s creativity – making people look for new ways to make it all work.

January is a particularly long run of events and shows and one early night at the start is important so as not to peak too soon. Then, at the end, I usually reward myself with a facial and massage at Espa Life at the Corinthia Hotel.

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