For the 26-year-old menswear designer Charles Jeffrey, the dance floor and the runway have always been one in the same. While in school at Central Saint Martins, he made a name for himself in East London when he began hosting the “Loverboy” club night at the aptly-named venue, Vogue Fabrics Dalston. It was in this space that he and his cohort of creative-friends expressed their taste for the decadent yet disheveled fashion of the night. After graduating, Jeffrey combined his two worlds with an official Loverboy collection, and has since been hailed for his “club kid couture” and for “bringing the club back to the catwalk.”
This season, however, Jeffery wanted to go far beyond the four walls of a nightclub for a different kind of performance. “We wanted to show we’re not just club kids,” he said following his Fall 2017 show at London Fashion Week: Men's on Friday. “We’re creatives and we’re reacting to the space around us. The definition of clubs are nights of escapism, and we wanted to validate that even further.”
For inspiration, Jeffrey looked far, far beyond East London—all the way to the cosmos. The collection, called "Full Fantasy," is divided into four chapters, beginning with dapper space travelers wearing traditional dinner jackets as their armor and ending with strung-out dandies and naughty princes. For the show, each new theme was announced with a Comme des Garçons-esque sculptural piece, meant to resemble an asteroid or comet.
Altogether, the collection is a reaction to the current global political climate. Much like a nightclub, fashion can offer a much-needed escape from the realities of the world, and Jeffrey imagines what it’s like to leave this planet to find another.
“There’s so muchgoing on in the world,” he said of his headspace. “We don’t believe the media; everything is a lie; we live in a bubble. I just really wanted to reflect on that and do a show that was about fantasy. It’s like the journey of traveling to a new planet.”
Originally from Scotland, Jeffrey moved from Glasgow to London at the age of 18 to pursue a career in fashion. In addition to studying (and clubbing), he also worked as a design assistant for Jack Willis and was selected for a three-month internship program in Christian Dior’s haute couture ateliers in Paris. His own work was spotted by Topman and Fashion East's MAN initiative in 2015, and he was invited to show at London Fashion Week Spring 2016 for the first time. This season, his show at MAN was his third and last before going out on his own.
With his third collection, Jeffrey has figured out how to take his vision from small details like bungee-cord belts to more conceptual clothing. “We used to rely a lot on styling,” he says. “But this season I really wanted to focus on the garments, techniques, and fabrics. Or, do something really sculptural and communicate form, but also perform it.”
He recruited his peer, Ib Kamara instead to help create unique accessories like tin-can embellishments, and a troupe of dancers also joined the models on the runway to usher in and out each new cast of characters.
“Moving forward, I want to push what it means to be a classic British brand in every sense of the word,” said Jeffrey backstage after his show. “Traditional but also extroverted. It’s almost like starting from the beginning again.” The trick, however, is to end with something completely different.
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