Dark. Dank. Devoid of sound.
The edgy power of John Cooper Clarke cuts through the ether…His weighty words, doused in a Lancashire accent, darting rhythmically about like vocal strobes.
The spoken word hits a crescendo, his last line held in the air, embraced by nothingness.
Within seconds, action ensues, as mist-for-lighting announces the dawn in Topman’s LCM showspace. An industrial location is revealed, with a concrete catwalk, dressed, intermittently, in pools of water and as deep, electronica replaces the solo, the first model, with already-drenched hair, turns the corner into this brick-clad world of ‘Wuthering Heights’, breaking the modern-day barrenness with an opening AW14 look.
Black literally set the tone, represented by substantial, single-breasted, over-sized, overcoats, such as the duffel, with a popular toggle-fastening and their double-breasted counterparts in waist-hitting jackets. PVC bonded to ‘notch’-lapels, patch-pockets and block-hems, added textural impact to the round-shouldered silhouettes, which skulked the pass. ‘Wet-look’ variations-on-the-theme would be presented in high-shine, lacquered-leather separates, impressively accentuating apparel in shape, form and line, whilst also defining details through such simple, yet effective, techniques as piping. Within this section, the colour propostions mirrored the autumnal palettes of moss-meadow green and mushroom, with red-based plaid shirts and tassled jackets (echoing the cowboy-themed SS14 motif), acting as the flash of sunlight, breaking free upon the moorland. Knitwear was rugged. At times, no-nonsense, with exaggerated, chin-cupping roll-necks, in open, cable and honeycomb weaves, resembling stylised fishing-nets…At others, given lozenge-beading and bouclé, to revisit pops-of-colour and to add surface characteristics.
Yet stronger spectral statements flooded onto sumptuous, full-length coats, in blazing orange, with matching, ‘jazzed-up’, ‘zoot-suit-style’ pants, voluminous and billowing against the strength-of-momentum with which the models strode through the venue. The pieces were also to be reprised in baby-blue pastel, a further homage to the tonal story, which has played a starring role in the sartorial spring/summer repertoire of many a design-house. The next seasonal trend-transition to be encapsulated, was the see-through mac, of long and short dimensions. Layered alongside these key advents into eye-catching shades, they complemented the story, with a revealing twist. Signature tailoring, for which the brand has become so higly-recognised and revered, featured in juxtaposed fashion to the drop-shouldered, full-pant ensembles, instead shown as straight-lined, straight-legged, suiting, in shipyard-slate and charcoal-greys, ever-echoing the ‘working-men’ of the past.
With the last look of black roll-neck, oversized, three-quarter length, matt, PVC coat and glistening liquid-look trousers, the Topman AW14 Collection had brought us to the end of our tour-of-the moors….or so it seemed…The last hurrah was an indoor downpour of rain, which fell upon the models as they walked the finale! It was an other-worldly end to a show which was typical of a collaboration, headed by the ebullient Gordon Richardson, and backed by an amazing design-team who know exactly who their ‘man’ is. To me, he’s a powerful, passionate, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth, modern-day Heathcliff and he wants his clothing to express that!
In the inimitable words of John Cooper Clark, ‘There’s apparel, Jim, but not as we know it!’* and when this distinctive collection hits the stores, you’ll see exactly what he means!
*Excerpt from ‘TOP MAN’ by John Cooper Clark
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