Fashion East's presentations are always a riotous affair. In some ways you can use them to judge the vibe of young London, they're a barometer for what's hot and not in the future of British menswear. All the best young talents are plucked by Lulu Kennedy to be part of her gang, and - a credit to her eye for the next big thing - this season each of the three designers showing on the MAN catwalk had graduated from Fashion East. So it's appropriate to predict that clothes on show at Kennedy's presentation will be what we are all wearing in two to three season's time, once each of her young ones have grown up and flown the coup to dominate the LC:M runway under their own name. So what's the mood going to be then? Loud and proud seems to be the obvious take-away. There was a explosion of colour, print and pattern on show, with a few whimsical accessories thrown in to boot, see Tom Ryling’s saucy military berets.
The line-up for this season's presentation featured one new talent, Liam Hodges, and old Fashion East favourites Kit Neale, Joseph Turvey, as well as art director Tom Ryling. Also on show was menswear-maestro-of-the-moment Craig Green who was showing off his colourful collaboration with Purified footwear. It's appropriate that the collection took place in a warehouse-like venue. The vibe was something of a rave - see Green's tie-die loafers and Turvey's statement blooms. But fun and frivolity aside, these kids are out to build brands and push their labels forward and this was evident in everything from the easy, relevant streetwear shapes to the print-heavy, street-style-friendly focus. The commercial benefits that a platform like Fashion East can bring was proved by the inclusion of womenswear alumni Marques’Almeida in the presentation. The duo had been invited back to launch their first menswear collection, which will be exclusively stocked by Opening Ceremony in August. Fashion East's ability to spark trends and stay ahead of the curve seemed to be riffed on by Neale, who printed maps of Peckham - one of London's up-and-coming hot spots for fashionable hipsters - across his trousers.
Upstairs, slightly more sinister things were afoot as Meadham Kirchhoff presented their S/S 14 offering - a gruelling affair that left us all with shivers. There's a complexity to children, as much as they are symbols of purity, innocence and wide-eyed curiosity, they can instil incredible fear - there is nothing darker than an evil child, as the makers of horror movies world-wide can attest to. Both visions of childhood were explored in today's presentation - on one hand the sweet vision of innocence with models in cotton underwear that could have been plucked from the baby section of Petit Bateau, flower painted wellies, and sweet cartoon-emblazoned bags, and on the other the bullies in creepy rubber latex and tailoring. This was a theatrical presentation. The sweet, 'good' children entered the room, sat down before us and were then selected one by one by these feared officials, before being stripped down to the basic components of their outfits - personal expression and joy were removed step by step as each garment was taken off. One wondered if this harked back to to some painful memory from one of the duo's childhoods - after all, fashion enthusiasts often have a difficult time avoiding trouble when growing up thanks to an innate desire to express themselves through clothing. When watching the collection it almost felt like you shouldn't have been there, it was like prying on a therapy session. But Meadham Kirchhoff are all about making us uncomfortable by championing the wounded, misunderstood outsider. They like turning a mirror on the elitism and hierarchies of the industry and this time they couldn't help but get under your skin.