Liam Hodges "MOD1FI3D N8ION" at London Collections: Men AW16

Liam Hodges presented his first solo collection at LC:M Fall 2016 after graduating from Fashion East's and Topman's joint MAN show initiative, which by the way is now over ten years old. This season Liam sent out his bold and brilliant blokes inspired by "petrol-heads" you know those lads obsessed with fixing, customising and just overly relying on their old bangers that you see in almost every suburb in England. He's been dreaming of fixing up and racing these cars himself recently. Cars, spanners, number plates - that's almost every teenage boy's dream isn't it? And although the collection had references to slick race car drivers, take the balaclavas with racing stripes acting as helmets for example, it was more aimed at those in a way, kind of mundane teenagers. Those who pour hours and hours of their life into fixing up and kitting out their dying vehicles often found in a back garden or parked on the front driveway. In a strange turn of events, packs of models raced down the runway together before stepping on their own. "It's like getting geared up for a weekend on the piss" Liam Hodges stated backstage, "It's about fun, and these people, they kind of take something, like modified car culture - they don't fit into fancy cars, so they make something themselves that's unique and way better than a fast car." Oily mechanic apprentices also set the tone in work overalls that focused heavily on surface detail, their grotty uniforms that referenced oil stains as they would in a real life situation. Liam favours the raw and undone, details and prints that may be accidental yet show his confidence in himself as a young and fresh-faced designer now facing an already packed London Menswear schedule on his own back.

Liam Hodges' Autumn/Winter 2016 collection went by the name "MOD1FI3D N8ION" that like I said was inspired by boy racers and their toys, their precious cars. Liam cleverly based a lot of the collection on some of his already established shapes, like the coach jacket, sweatshirts and intarsia sweatpants. I say clever because this is how you build your brand, especially when starting out on your own in London. It's what Liam Hodges does, he often takes classic menswear garments and reinvents them or modifies them in a way that he himself would want to wear and also what his friends would wear, how they would wear it, what would they keep and what would they lose. Let's go back to them intarsia knit tracksuits for a moment because they are amongst my favourites in all of Liam's collections (in the past they've been fit for boy scouts and market traders), this season they came in licence-plate yellow and racing car blue spelling out words like "F45T" and "60 F45T3R" they looked incredible. These slogans were also present on sweatshirts and raglan tees that were made available to buy from MACHINE-A days prior to the show. That's not to say Liam didn't introduce any new shapes because he in fact did. Mechanic's boiler suits and bomber jackets were thrown into the mix, they were printed in a black and white photocopy-style in a sort of spanner and wrench camouflage, along with embroidered "LH" licence plates and Union Jack flag on the reverse. The seat belts from Blackburn's Children of last season also made an epic return. I loved all that.

Rather than layering the garments in an individual conventional way, some were spliced and stitched back together. Warehouse workwear jackets had jersey bomber jacket panels attached to the backs and sweatshirts were split into two-tone at the shoulder. "The same way they take a Citroen Saxo and put a body kit on it, we were trying to do that with clothes," Liam explained. The same effect with track pants, they were layered with a doubling of elasticated panels creating higher waistbands, worn with matching sweaters that featured a number plate Euro star-circle graphic tucked in. A nod to a 50's silhouette, a decade also reminiscent of it's love for muscle cars. What also tapped into this idea of modifying was the matching blue and yellow headpieces made by hairstylist Tina Outen. "We were looking at trying to make something where it was like a modified headpiece, thinking about spoilers and body kits," the designer explained, "just a nice simple touch that I think lifted the whole thing a little bit." Liam Hodges had once again been experimenting with hair-dye, his hair this time was cobalt that almost everywhere I read was a shock to the audience when he took his bow. On a final note, Liam continued to speak to his sort of generation of young adults like myself who just want to own really cool, great menswear clothes with a bold and brave, graphic sense of print, style and shape. I predict a bright future ahead (not just hair-wise) for someone who put an unforgettable stamp on his first solo season.





Images courtesy of SHOWstudio, Dazed Digital and Wonderland Magazine
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