London’s Finest: Who are the British Menswear Designers Nominated for the LVMH Prize 2018?
Nine finalists have been shortlisted for this year’s prestigious LVMH Prize, and two of them are British-born menswear designers based in London. The prize is awarded by the LVMH (the letters stand for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) Group, which – along with its rival the Kering Group – is one of the two largest luxury fashion conglomerates in the world, counting brands such as Dior, Kenzo, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs among its subsidiaries. The coveted prize entails both a €300,000 grant and a one-year mentorship from senior industry figures in the group, and was first awarded in 2014.
The award is intended to support young designers making waves in a cut-throat fashion industry that values heritage names and established brands above all else. It’s unsurprising, then, that London menswear has a strong pedigree in the competition: Grace Wales Bonner’s fluid take on masculinity won her the award in 2016, and Charles Jeffrey’s Loverboy label received a nomination for the second year running this year.
Here, we take a closer look at the two talented British designers who are being recognised by this year’s prize. Each of them is distinguished in that they have created a strong brand DNA, and a contemporary-feeling design language that looks set to carry them onto bigger and better things in the future.
A-COLD-WALL is designed by 26-year-old Samuel Richardson, who started his fashion career aged 15 by selling fake Nike and Adidas to his friends. After working at luxury streetwear brands Off-White and Hood by Air, Richardson self-funded the creation of his own brand, A-COLD-WALL, in 2015. The brand name is a reference to the concrete of the council estates he grew up in.
As a young, black, working-class designer, Richardson is aware that his brand has emerged from a marginal space. “It is an anomaly itself, in the way it’s presented, the fabrics used, the installations, and my own story as well,” he told Hypebeast recently. The notion of class barriers seems to find an echo in the use of industrial textiles for his collections, but such barriers are easily overcome by Richardson’s future-oriented positivity.
AW17 gave us our first taste of Richardson’s talent for re-imagining menswear classics – from tailoring to streetwear – through fabrication and cut.
For SS18, Richardson made creative use of props, encouraging show goers to question the way fashion products are framed and disseminated in the (increasingly digital – will shopping baskets become a thing of the past?) modern retail environment.
Aw18 was a tour de force of trendiness, exhibiting Richardson’s signature flair for dystopian deconstruction, clashing fabrications, and outlandish accessories.
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy
Scottish designer Charles Jeffrey garnered attention while taking his BA at Central Saint Martins in London, during which time he did a stint in the couture ateliers at Dior in Paris. A self-described club kid, Jeffrey made local headlines for his Loverboy clubnight at the VF club in Dalston, which became a celebration of good style and queer culture.
Jeffrey’s big break came in AW16, when his collection was shown as part of Lulu Kennedy and Topman’s MAN project; an initiative showcasing emerging menswear talent at London Fashion Week: Men’s. The Scottish designer has made a name for himself with his imaginative design work and talent for representing London’s hedonistic nightlife through clothing.
Jeffrey’s AW16 debut demonstrated his punkish sensibility in the form of twisted tailoring. There was a slouchiness about the clothes which suggested they would be comfortable enough for all-night raving.
The colourful, theatrical, Vivienne Westwood-inspired joyousness of Jeffrey’s SS18 collection was much needed at a time of global woe and turmoil. “The past is a different country and everyone is welcome,” the designer told reporters who had flocked to see the show.
Jeffrey’s AW18 collection, entitled TANTRUM, was meant as an externalisation of the rage he felt growing up gay in small-town Scotland. This theme found its expression in ripped up clothing and tartan renderings.
The 2018 LVMH Prize winners (there is a main winner an a special mention, who receives a smaller cash prize) will be announced on 6th June at the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Who do you think the prize will go to?
See more of our men’s fashion articles here.