Christopher Shannon is an outsider. He may have just beat off competition from all his peers - Raeburn, Dalton, Nicoll and co - to scoop the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund prize, but he's not a typical designer or part of the establishment. He's northern, famously shy and got into Saint Martins on a scholarship. He's not got the gift of the gab that has helped many other less remarkable designers win column inches and acclaim. No, he lets his clothes do the talking. They don't need a pontificating, showman behind them, they're just good. But given the above, it's perhaps no surprise that he has a thing for the underdog. That's why his collections have spirit, they champion outsiders. For S/S 15 the focus was teenagers, as Shannon had been perusing Adrienne Salinger's brilliant nineties book of teens in their bedrooms. It's no secret that a teenager's room is their world, full of posters and relics that capture and display their fragile sense of self and deep felt emotions. The beauty and earnestness of that teen spirit was captured by Shannon perfectly in the collection. It was made with emotion and love, right from the hand crafted prints (echoing obsessively built sticker books) through to the carefully considered layering and drop sleeves that smacked of young people growing into their clothes and with that their identities - just like Shannon.
But while the vibe may have been teenage there was nothing amateur or studenty about the finish. Outerwear in particular was strong. Similarly a new cutout technique that flashed thighs and chests was well realised and had a naive, curious sensuality to it - grown up, but innocent and awkward at the same time. An obvious sign of growth and brand development came in the new collaborations - notably a first foray into sunglasses with the help of Lunettes Kollektion.
Shannon had dedicated the collection to the late Louise Wilson, his much-loved tutor while at college. It hammered home the fact that Shannon is one of the greatest success stories of her course and proof that despite all the knocks that come against arts education and the financial barriers to design success, talent will out, when nourished and encouraged by the right mentors. The British fashion industry should be very proud and prioritise such support moving forward.