Crash! Bang! Wallop! The Theo Adams troupe opened Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY A/W 18 before the actual show had even started, with their stamps and cries, their screams and their whoops. Lights flashing and characters mincing. Charles Jeffrey’s previous show was a frenzy of fun, a dance with a bright illustrative set. Here, amongst the dark, characters were a little deranged, and as the siren rang for the models begin, one couldn’t help but think of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Prodigy’s Firestarter bellowed through the halls as the Theo Adams Co took their seats amongst the set and one of the LOVERBOY’s, painted entirely blue, began belting out on a drum kit live with the music - also sat amongst the set.
Entitled 'TANTRUM', this collection was about expression and passion. Jeffrey had cited The Velvet Rage as an influence - a book that tells the tale of growing up as a gay man in a decidedly straight man’s world. Understandably frustrated, Jeffrey had put his animosity into beauty. Models strode with bulbous but artfully formulated hair net sculptures, some models even had red contacts in - literally seeing red.
Make-up was ferocious and fiery and had called upon artists such as Marlene Dumas and Rothko for inspiration. There were red flushed rosacea faces and dreamy white palettes with a caricature-like outline. Think warpaint, think tribal. Indeed, this is Jeffrey’s tribe, a tribe of Loverboys.
As the models walked, the leering, whooping characters we had met before (who were now sat on the runway - much like a traditional salon show) began gesticulating in actions of either love or hate. Looks walked past and, akin to Caesar’s deciding thumb at the Colosseum, characters would spit, leer or swear at looks they couldn’t bear and lust and thrust at the looks they approved of. There have been a few negative mumblings of Jeffrey’s work as of late and it seemed as though these hecklers were a commentary on his mixed reviews. A mirror to the critics who sat in the audience.
In fact, this collection was a two fingers up to those that debate his craftsmanship or his originality. Here, Jeffrey proved them wrong. It was considered and well-crafted, with genuine joy - a bit of a novelty in fashion these days. There was familiar iconography and illustrative prints, here printed on a thick knit sweater, on leather jacket and trousers, on brilliant LOVERBOY tees (ideal for the club-going fashion student yearning to join the LOVERBOY spectacular) and on a beautiful corset. The latter of which, when revealed, made my entire row inch forward on their chairs in approval. There was even an official LOVERBOY tartan on a suit and cinched skirt! A tartan Jeffrey had created to honour his Scottish roots. He had said previously that he was concerned it looked a little too Celtic/Rangers but it felt more regal, smart, almost Teddy Boy, than rowdy football hooligan. Another winning look was a camel coat that appeared torn and tattered as if by a shotgun - a classic shape with a Jeffrey twist.
It's this melting pot of LOVERBOY cut-and-paste with Charles James silhouette, decorative print with a you-had-to-be-there spectacle that makes Jeffrey a must see and a one to watch.