Christopher Shannon's The Comfort and the Horror at London Collections: Men AW16

On Saturday, the Liverpudlian designer Christopher Shannon showcased his Fall 2016 collection, to my disappointment it was a presentation as oppose to his usual runway schedule which normally is the buzz around the city. Nevertheless there was still some great pieces to glue our eyes on. But before I talk about the collection, I would just like to give a little insight into the world of Shannon. A graduate of the Central Saint Martins MA Menswear course, where under the teaching of the late, great Louise Wilson was awarded a scholarship. He founded his menswear label in 2008, with a vision of moving British menswear on from its legacy of fine tailoring to a new wave of modern, relevant collections that speak to the people, drawing on diverse references that Shannon knows everything about. Much to what Kim Jones was doing a few years prior, to whom he was in ways his unofficial protégé. His shows throb with that same raw talent and brash, working-class machismo meets high fashion. My favourite kind. 

From the wet-through, soaked Sunday-league footballers of AW14, bedroom-bound emo kids of SS15, AW15's broke plastic bag-heads to last seasons' tits, tan and tequila Magaluf club kids straight outta a foam party. Literally the best references. This season, however saw Shannon return to home territory, looking at late 1980's, early 1990's suburban Liverpool. Yeah he grew up there, but he's spent the majority of his adult life studying and working in London, its a fact thats left him with a darkly romanticised view of off-the-grid life. "I'm quite fascinated by how I was so repulsed by suburbia as a child and now I crave a certain stability and normality that it represents," Christopher Shannon acknowledged before Saturday's presentation. "I had this clip in my mind of this old, VHS footage of the suburbs where I grew up, focusing on how kind of unassuming but creepy it was with double-glazing and net curtains." That weirdness is inherently Shannon. His means to produce clothes that draws the magic out of the traditionally unexciting, harsh realities of lower-middle class and transform them into these objects, or to an extent this life of desire.

The presentation, held at the Alison Jacques Gallery in the London borough of Westminster turned out to be quite the fitting setting for Shannon and his boys. Christopher Shannon chose the title "comfort and horror" not just because it sounds good, but because he was referring to his upbringing, his childhood. The comfort of one's home, but also the horror of being trapped there. A dead end. Towering wooden structures, complete with PVC window frames literally took centre stage, resembling the bare bones of a semi-detached, mock-Tudor style home, the sort built by British construction firm Barratt. Inspired by his recent collaboration with visual artist Linder Sterling on costumes for a performance with the Northern Ballet Company's "Children of the Mantic Stain". One can't help but strike up the question of whether there is too much pressure on the head of the designer nowadays, that fashion is moving too fast and that sometimes the hype of the show ignores the clothes themselves a little bit. Bigger, more collections with less time has seen the departure of fashion's greats recently, Raf Simons at Dior, Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. Instead of designing endless show pieces or things to fill a gap, that doesn't appeal to a buyer, why not hone your skills and your focus into something with reason, something that makes sense both financially and time-wise. Maybe this was Shannon's way of whispering to the system to calm down and take a moment to actually look, admire and appreciate all his hard work over the past six months. For starters there was less looks than normal. Although I do feel the point has now been made and I do hope Christopher Shannon returns to the runway in time for Spring/Summer 2017. London craves his energy.

The collection may have been smaller on a whole, that doesn't mean to say the clothes were any less on point. I was glad to see the return to his signature popper pants, they were my favourite addition to Autumn/Winter 2015. They also now come with a new logo graphic down the sides - think Kappa, Diadora or Ellesse. Another major feature in the collection was the outerwear, something us guys will always attracted to. Gingham and striped patchwork took the helm of most of the super short boxers, but also one incredible jacket in particular. It was oversized, and padded, and striped, and checked. It was a dream. The shearling was an interesting choice, and also what we seen creep up in his River Island collaboration back in September. "My uncle, who was minted, had a shearling jacket. That's what everyone was after." The perfect 80's reference. Oh and the PVC macs, in clear, smoky charcoal and flamingo pink were to a dream. The base layers were to a hit, zipped right up to the chin revealing the word "Shannon" written around the collar. Aside from all the great clothes, it's simplicity is understanding a Christopher Shannon collection is what makes it so clever and indeed a success. "I was thinking back to the boys who went out with my babysitters," Shannon recalled. It proves you don't need a deep, meaningful narrative, nor have visited anywhere close to Liverpool to get a twisted sense of small-town life and in Christopher Shannon's case, pent-up teenage sexual frustration always so relevant in his collections. Whether the amount of flesh on show or dressed head-to-toe in a velour tracksuit, his boys are sexy. Especially wearing regular workman jeans. Jewellery included little deconstructed English coins in gold, which dangled from a single ear - very Liverpool lad, with a twist of camp. It was a damn right shame to see the end or at least a break in a three-season collaboration with CAT, but replacing them were black and white Reebok Workout Plus so its not all bad. Closing thoughts? Get back to were you belong Shannon: The runway. 

Join back tomorrow for the complete set of MAN designers, as always on...

The Wolf of High Street