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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

London Fashion Week A/W 2011: Illustrator Gareth does Menswear Day, part two!

Here's the second part of illustrator Gareth A Hopkins' experience at London Fashion Week's Menswear Day, featuring KTZ and Cassette Playa!

Written by Gareth A Hopkins

Dry The River, check sick shot exclusively by Tom Oldham

J.W. Anderson, pill photographed by Matt Bramford

It’s 8:45 on a cold wet Wednesday and I’m stalking the entrance to Somerset House, more about waiting for Matt Bramford to come and meet me for my first ever day of London Fashion Week, stuff which I’ve come to with a view to doing some live fashion illustration. I’m feeling surprisingly calm, considering how out of my depth I’m expecting to find myself. I put my serenity down to sleep deprivation, busying myself with not looking too out of place. At the point where the security guards are starting to wonder what I’m hanging around for, Matt texts me and I amble off, as coolly as I can, to meet him at the doors into the main ‘Tent’.

As I arrive, Matt hands me my Press Pass and I feel like he’s given me a Willy Wonky Golden Ticket which provides access to a new and magical world. I flash it on the way into the Press Room where Matt picks up his stuff, hands me the ridiculously over-sized invitation to J.W. Anderson and we’re out again, straight into the queue for the show. The bouncer in charge of the queue takes a look at our invites and sends us to opposite sides of the room. I experiment with making myself look natural in my surroundings, the queue that Matt’s in gets allowed through, and once that’s cleared, my queue starts shuffling forward.


J.W. Anderson, photographed by Matt Bramford

I’m allowed past some rope barriers into the main room, and am… well, not unimpressed, rather just not as overwhelmed as I’d prepared myself for. The room’s long and poorly lit, its sides lined with rows of wooden benches, and a polythene-covered runway running up the middle – I don’t know what I was expecting, but this is a lot plainer than I’d thought it was going to be. I make my way over to the row of benches dictated by my ticket, and then busy myself with getting my video-camera, pad and pens ready. As the room settles down I realise that in an almost-full room, I’ve got an entire bench to myself, and am not sure whether to feel lucky or to take offence. 


All illustrations by Gareth A Hopkins

The room hushes as the polythene sheet is pulled away by some burly stagehands and then before I’m really ready for it the lights are on full-blast and there’s a man marching down the catwalk. I pop the lid off my pen, put the nib to the page and the model’s already been and gone. I wait for the next few guys to come and go, then pick my target and start frantically sketching. By the time he’s tucked away backstage I’ve managed to capture the top corner of his sleeve and that’s it. I write in my sketchbook “Shit, I can’t draw this fast” and get out my video camera, with a view to capturing the outfits and then working from the videos – the trouble is the lights are so bright that all I get on the viewing screen is a bright white shape moving at speed, like the aliens from Cocoon are parading for a crowd assembled in a gymnasium. 


J.W. Anderson, photographed by Matt Bramford

I realise that I’m not going to achieve very much through either drawing or filming, and so instead take the opportunity to enjoy the show, and concentrate on the clothes as much as I can. The clothes are sharply tailored, often military-style, but made out of combinations of textures and textiles – a jumper with furry arms and Barbour-style body for instance. There are also some skirts in there, which I think look pretty cool. The only thing I’m not keen on is the use of paisley, which of all patterns in the world is probably my least favourite. And then ‘Wave Of Mutilation’ by Pixies is playing over the PA and all the models are walking in a line to applause from the audience – in joining in, I manage to drop both my camera and my pad, and spend this final section of the show flicking my attention between applauding, watching the clothes and trying to find my dropped possessions. 

After it’s all over I re-locate Matt, who asks if I got much done, and I explain about my inability to draw as fast as I needed to. He reassures me by saying that next up is Sibling, who are holding a presentation, and that I’ll have much more time to get some decent drawing done. With some time to kill, we wait outside in the thankfully quite mild weather. Nick Bain comes and joins us after a while and tells us about Charlie Le Mindu’s show from earlier in the week and I feel a little disappointed that none of the models from JW Anderson’s show were covered in pig’s blood.

As 10:30am rolls around, we make our way up to the Sibling presentation. I don’t know what to expect from Sibling – I’d researched them in preparation and in all honesty wasn’t that fussed about them. Their mix of high fashion and self-aware bloke-ishness didn’t really do anything from me, but I kept an open mind. I know Nick loved the clothes on show, but I still can’t get behind it – I find their use of the ‘Kiss Pandas’ a bit boorish, and this combined with a inbuilt distrust of knitted ski masks and people dressed as pandas puts me on edge. That’s not to say I hate it, though – there’s a furry headwear/scarf combination that I wish I could get away with wearing, and I really like some of the jumpers. I manage to get some sketching of two of the outfits done, but find myself being more and more in the way of people with cameras and notebooks and pens tapping against their lips, and sidle out of the room after Matt and Nick. 
 


Sibling, photographed by Matt Bramford

Once outside I make the most of my half-day from work, and go back to my office for a few hours, to return for some more catwalk shows in the afternoon…

Look out for the rest of Gareth’s account tomorrow!

See Gareth’s illustrations in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration

J.W. Anderson (not Gareth) photographed by Matt Bramford

It’s 8:45 on a cold wet Wednesday and I’m stalking the entrance to Somerset House, doctor waiting for Matt Bramford to come and meet me for my first ever day of London Fashion Week, check which I’ve come to with a view to doing some live fashion illustration. I’m feeling surprisingly calm, considering how out of my depth I’m expecting to find myself. I put my serenity down to sleep deprivation, busying myself with not looking too out of place. At the point where the security guards are starting to wonder what I’m hanging around for, Matt texts me and I amble off, as coolly as I can, to meet him at the doors into the main ‘Tent’.

As I arrive, Matt hands me my Press Pass and I feel like he’s given me a Willy Wonky Golden Ticket which provides access to a new and magical world. I flash it on the way into the Press Room where Matt picks up his stuff, hands me the ridiculously over-sized invitation to J.W. Anderson and we’re out again, straight into the queue for the show. The bouncer in charge of the queue takes a look at our invites and sends us to opposite sides of the room. I experiment with making myself look natural in my surroundings, the queue that Matt’s in gets allowed through, and once that’s cleared, my queue starts shuffling forward.


J.W. Anderson, photographed by Matt Bramford

I’m allowed past some rope barriers into the main room, and am… well, not unimpressed, rather just not as overwhelmed as I’d prepared myself for. The room’s long and poorly lit, its sides lined with rows of wooden benches, and a polythene-covered runway running up the middle – I don’t know what I was expecting, but this is a lot plainer than I’d thought it was going to be. I make my way over to the row of benches dictated by my ticket, and then busy myself with getting my video-camera, pad and pens ready. As the room settles down I realise that in an almost-full room, I’ve got an entire bench to myself, and am not sure whether to feel lucky or to take offence. 


All illustrations by Gareth A Hopkins

The room hushes as the polythene sheet is pulled away by some burly stagehands and then before I’m really ready for it the lights are on full-blast and there’s a man marching down the catwalk. I pop the lid off my pen, put the nib to the page and the model’s already been and gone. I wait for the next few guys to come and go, then pick my target and start frantically sketching. By the time he’s tucked away backstage I’ve managed to capture the top corner of his sleeve and that’s it. I write in my sketchbook “Shit, I can’t draw this fast” and get out my video camera, with a view to capturing the outfits and then working from the videos – the trouble is the lights are so bright that all I get on the viewing screen is a bright white shape moving at speed, like the aliens from Cocoon are parading for a crowd assembled in a gymnasium. 


J.W. Anderson, photographed by Matt Bramford

I realise that I’m not going to achieve very much through either drawing or filming, and so instead take the opportunity to enjoy the show, and concentrate on the clothes as much as I can. The clothes are sharply tailored, often military-style, but made out of combinations of textures and textiles – a jumper with furry arms and Barbour-style body for instance. There are also some skirts in there, which I think look pretty cool. The only thing I’m not keen on is the use of paisley, which of all patterns in the world is probably my least favourite. And then ‘Wave Of Mutilation’ by Pixies is playing over the PA and all the models are walking in a line to applause from the audience – in joining in, I manage to drop both my camera and my pad, and spend this final section of the show flicking my attention between applauding, watching the clothes and trying to find my dropped possessions. 

After it’s all over I re-locate Matt, who asks if I got much done, and I explain about my inability to draw as fast as I needed to. He reassures me by saying that next up is Sibling, who are holding a presentation, and that I’ll have much more time to get some decent drawing done. With some time to kill, we wait outside in the thankfully quite mild weather. Nick Bain comes and joins us after a while and tells us about Charlie Le Mindu’s show from earlier in the week and I feel a little disappointed that none of the models from JW Anderson’s show were covered in pig’s blood.

As 10:30am rolls around, we make our way up to the Sibling presentation. I don’t know what to expect from Sibling – I’d researched them in preparation and in all honesty wasn’t that fussed about them. Their mix of high fashion and self-aware bloke-ishness didn’t really do anything from me, but I kept an open mind. I know Nick loved the clothes on show, but I still can’t get behind it – I find their use of the ‘Kiss Pandas’ a bit boorish, and this combined with a inbuilt distrust of knitted ski masks and people dressed as pandas puts me on edge. That’s not to say I hate it, though – there’s a furry headwear/scarf combination that I wish I could get away with wearing, and I really like some of the jumpers. I manage to get some sketching of two of the outfits done, but find myself being more and more in the way of people with cameras and notebooks and pens tapping against their lips, and sidle out of the room after Matt and Nick. 
 


Sibling, photographed by Matt Bramford

Once outside I make the most of my half-day from work, and go back to my office for a few hours, to return for some more catwalk shows in the afternoon…

Look out for the rest of Gareth’s account tomorrow!

See Gareth’s illustrations in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration

Cassette Playa, medications illustrated by Gareth A Hopkins

I get back to Somerset House later that afternoon to meet Matt and Amelia for the Cassette Playa show, and after a very brief ‘hello’ at the entrance, we’re separate again as Amelia and Matt go to find spaces on the front row and I get herded up to my allocated seat. The room darkens as I realise that for the second time that day I have a whole bench to myself – this despite the fact that the room is otherwise crammed with people. As I ponder this, there’s a burst of light and there’s a man striding along the catwalk, again at the same supernatural pace as during JW Anderson’s show. Now, I didn’t have any notion of what to expect from Cassette Playa, and I’m a little overwhelmed by it all.


Cassette Playa, photographed by Matt Bramford

A lot of the clothes are oversized in a hip-hop way, and stuffed or padded, but what gets me most is the printing all over – trousers with stylised flames, a leather jacket covered in brightly printed logos… it’s all a bit much for me. Everyone in the crowd, though, is very impressed, which I can tell because a good proportion of them are nodding their heads in time to the incredibly loud Metal blasting through the PA. About two-thirds-of-the-way through, the lights dim again and there’s a pause, followed by another explosion of light, and there’s the first of many models painted entirely gold loping down the catwalk. This clearly impresses the head-nodders in the crowd, as the magnitude of the nodding increases so much it actually looks a little dangerous. All I can think is how much I like his black cable-knit jumper, although I’m not too keen on the matching knitted trousers. After that point, I spend as much time on the models’ headwear, wondering whether it’s supposed to look like a take-away container turned upside down, or whether it’s a weird robotic stand-in for hair.


Casette Playa, photographed by Matt Bramford

After the show I try to track down Matt and Amelia again, and by the time I get down out of the stands, Amelia’s already off to another part of the festival. With a fair whack of time to kill before our final show of the day, I take the opportunity to poke around the presentation rooms while Matt sojourns to the Press Room. The presentation rooms are rammed, with both content and audience. It’s actually quite difficult to stay in one place as the crowd keeps moving forward, so drawing any of the static models is impossible for me, although I am struck by how unhappy they all look.


Noki, photographed by Gareth A Hopkins

I manage to duck into a corner of Dr Noki’s stand, showing off his Noki Noir line. With its terrifying screaming face jewellery and reconstructed baseball hats, it puts me as much in mind of neo-pagan rituals as it does about clothes.

I manage to squeeze my way back out and track down Matt, and after an hour of hanging around outside, we go into KTZ. We’ve got tickets for the second row, but again I’ve no idea what to expect from the designer. Matt runs out at one point to give Amelia her ticket, and I notice that once again despite the fact the room is rammed, and people are fighting for seating, I’ve got a whole bench to myself. Just as my confusion turns to existential despair, Matt runs back in and the show kicks off.


KTZ, photographed by Matt Bramford

I instantly love everything coming down the catwalk – constructions in black, red, white, blue and yellow stripes which remind me of Pop Art, and I get really into it. Two things drag me out and put me back in my usual headspace, though. First of all, the lady models are stomping down the catwalk with such ferocity that the skin on their faces is shaking, which combined with what look like very uncomfortable block-heeled shoes makes me worry about their personal well being. Secondly, one of the male models looks terrified – I don’t know whether this is a carefully selected ‘model look’ but on both the occasions he comes past I want to either give him a hug and tell him it’s all going to be OK, or laugh out loud. Oh, and some of the models are wearing ski masks that make them look like Fonejacker (Ski Masks must be very in this year).


KTZ, photographed by Matt Bramford

After the show I stand outside with Amelia and Matt while they share gossip about designers and PRs and the bizarre ‘Performance Artists’ that make it their business to sit on the front row of the shows dressed up like freaks. Then it’s time to go, and I leave in a flurry of air kisses and waves. On my way home, I try to come up with some profound realisations about the world of fashion based on the day’s experiences, but none come through… I’m too tired, and my legs hurt too much, and I’m already wondering whether I’ll get the chance to do the same thing in September.

Oh, and that I really need to learn to draw faster in the future if I’m going to promise to do live fashion illustration.

See Gareth’s illustrations in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration – and read part one here!

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