TANTRUM: Charles Jeffrey Loverboy at London Fashion Week Men's AW18

"When you grow up gay and run home from being bullied, you always think, I'll show them one day, I'll show the bastards that made fun of me."

In his most punk collection to date, for AW18 Charles Jeffrey's Loverboy was at it's grittiest and most honest. By once again bringing back performance and theatre to the runway, this was a fashion show to be spoken about for many years to come. In his report for the Financial Times, menswear critic Charlie Porter hailed it as like early Alexander McQueen collections, and understandably why.

In December of last year, Charles Jeffrey was voted Emerging Menswear Designer of the year at the 2017 British Fashion Awards, an award presented by one of Charles' heroes, John Galliano CBE. It is an award that in the past has been won by some of London's biggest names; Grace Wales Bonner and Craig Green. Yesterday, Charles Jeffrey and his Loverboy team proved exactly why they were the rightful winners of such a prestigious award. The latest Loverboy collection was like no other before, it was much darker, much more emotional, personal and above all, educational. "An explosion of anger" described as by Jeffrey himself, as he delved deep into memories of his Scottish heritage and upbringing.

The show again featured a dance performance choreographed by the Theo Adams Company, infused with a screaming confrontation of what it feels like growing up gay. The dancers emerged, screaming, screeching, running, acting unsettled, and once the show began, they took to their seats in the centre of the catwalk, heckled and spat their drinks at the models as they walked past. When put into the context of the show, this expresses new, never before seen emotions in Charles Jeffrey's work. It struck a chord in my heart. A blue head-to-toe painted drummer, played along to The Prodigy's "Firestarter" as he also explored the power of rage.

Ah the garments, as expected were fabulous. Charles has patented his own Loverboy plaid of blue, red and white. A return to the Jackson Pollock-esque paint splattered garments were amongst my favourite looks, what's really astonishing is just how quickly Jeffrey has established a signature for the Loverboy label. Suiting was also strong, as was outerwear, both of which came ripped and destroyed. Note a tremendous camel coat and shrunken duffle coat with oversized collar and cuffs in the same fabric. Knitwear is something I always keep an eye out for in a Charles Jeffrey show, there was a continuation of the shredded, striped knits of seasons' past, only this time it was belted and worn like a dress. Other knits, like cable knits for example were printed with graffiti-like swirls and an inflated argyle sweater that had been screen printed by Richard Quinn, resembled the blown-up proportions of Charles Jeffrey's BA collection at Central Saint Martins.

"I always find myself being a lot more Scottish when I feel invalidated. I guess it's an exploration of anger."

Alongside finding inspiration in the work of Claes Oldenburg's happenings, Charles had recently been reading The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Alan Downs. "Lots of chapters resonated with me," Charles said backstage. "It deals with certain behavioural traits in gay people. Why we're a little bit more flamboyant. Why we're a little bit more interested in escapism. Why we react in certain ways to validation. I always find myself being a lot more Scottish when I feel invalidated. I guess it's an exploration of anger." Yes, Charles is a young designer, this was only his sixth collection since graduating from the MA Course at Saint Martins, but needless to say this designer has a strong sense of responsibility. To put on display something as personal and close-to-home as this was, takes courage and bravery, and is leading by example to a whole generation of youth, not only those interested in fashion, but to anyone who can relate. And for that reason alone, I thank you Charles Jeffrey.

Images courtesy of Dazed Digital and Vogue Runway

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