A. F. Vandevorst AW16

A. F. Vandevorst AW16

Isolating the details which differentiate menswear and womenswear can be as subtle as the angle of a lapel, the number of holes on a button, the width between a seam and a topstitch, the list goes on. Appropriating silhouettes from one for use in another is not new, but the way in which the A. F. Vandevorst collection stripped the pinstripes from a businessman and wrapped them around their women, was. The whole show seemed to aim for confusion; to disrupt the flow in a day where you may have seen masses of lace and umpteen pretty dresses in order to present an evocative and overall backwards and warped collection. The way several cameramen swarmed around the models filming footage for the screens at the opening of catwalk; darting between, rushing around getting close ups and panning all over the place (round of applause to all models who managed not to have their heads taken off in this process), added to the mayhem and disconcertion of the whole experience, leaving one question on my mind as I left: was that part of the concept?

It wasn’t, or at least it wasn’t proclaimed. Maybe the whole point was to hype the pace and confuse the viewers, asserting the whole atmosphere of the show to be hectic. Whilst it was unclear what the cameras were for, the clothes spoke for themselves. Elements of classic garments were redistributed around the body, wrapped or backwards or both. Belts hung undone, lapels left dishevelled, joggers protruded from underneath oversized tailored trousers and jeans reversed. All of which created a ‘schizophrenic appropriation of the familiar’.

The use of humble textiles such as washed denim and pinstripe suiting reaffirmed the foundations of the pieces, creating the idea that they had a past life, or a past ‘proper’ form at least, which had been flung to the wind and re-imagined in order to create this undone elegance; one that became sculptural and mysterious with the inclusion of some models heads completely wrapped in belts and oiled suede (extra applause to them for not being taken out by the camera men).

This collection – which all at once felt romantic, exciting, urban and dynamic- explored the balance between informal and formal as well as masculine and feminine. Explorations between genders have often weighed heavy on the former, though I feel this one manages to ground itself in the latter. Whether that be down to the fish nets stretched over boxer-style shorts, the masses of draped fabric or the many cinched waists, it’s clear that this upside-down wrong-way-round collection is made for the confident, free-thinking woman who wouldn’t think twice before donning her husband’s work attire (backwards) underneath her fishnets and fur.

Written by Leanne Westbury / @leannewestbury
Creative Director

Photography by Katy Thomas

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