There’s a party spirit detectable this London menswear season. It’s different to the usual high-jinks and frolics that are the norm in a city that’s known for pushing the creative boat out and serving up something a little bit mad. It’s more nostalgic, perhaps even slightly more laddish. It’s not poetic hedonism, but rather exuberance. We saw it yesterday at Christopher Shannon with his Balearic ravers and today, the second day of LCM, it was on show at Lou Dalton. Perhaps it’s all part of the process that’s seen menswear stop apologising for itself - why should it, the industry is booming. The menswear luxury market has been growing faster than the luxury women’s market for years. In summary, if you’re a bloke, it’s now cool to like clothes. So no wonder Dalton feels like celebrating. Her collection was an ode to proudly style-conscious chaps. Not the 3-piece suit and umbrella brigade, but the kind of men who know the exact brand of trainer they like, care about the cut of a pair of jeans, aren’t afraid of a jazzy print and like getting dressed for a party in a proper good shirt. This guy isn’t foppish or fey, but he likes peacocking. He’d have fun showing off in one of Dalton’s cheerful orange shirts with a warped madras check or a Prince of Wales check jacket with exaggerated bulky pockets.
Dalton has taken the formality out of dressing up. Her show notes painted a picture of naive young men finding themselves in new cities while on life-changing new adventures, painstakingly getting ready for a party and carefully selecting their look, eager to impress their adored new gang; ‘It’s recalling that feeling of coming of age, that euphoria in a place where you belong.’ You could truly sense that jubilance, but on reflection this didn’t read like a collection about personal identity and feet finding, but rather a heady ode to shared experiences and the happy milestones that many men can reminisce about - so that striped blue rave jumper drew nostalgic nods from former nineties revellers, while clear plastic macs and bucket hats brought back typical festival memories. All in all, this was a looser, freer collection than we’re used to from such a diligent designer as Dalton. One model had a printed hankie nonchalantly stuffed in his back pocket. Perhaps an innocent styling addition, perhaps a knowing nod to the handkerchief code and other ‘coming of age’ processes - either way it was a suitably cheeky emblem for a collection that was all about fun.