Top Moments in Menswear 2012 – Part II

Major moments continued…

Just when did a casual run to the corner shop begin to resemble a bout of battleground training?2012 saw camo move from the context of military surplus to some of menswear’s most covetable wardrobes, being plastered over everything from men’s luxury swimwear to iPad cases.

As with so many seemingly revolutionary turnings of fashion’s tides, many of us probably thought the appropriation of camo entirely original. It’s not really the case, however, with the print apparently having made appearances as far back as the early 20th century in couture collections according to this report from camo devotees Orlebar Brown.

In recent memory, there was of the course the 90s and early noughties – a time we couldn’t quite conceal our collective wood for woodland camo in the form of cargo shorts and pants. This easily digested NY Times article from Ruth La Ferla points out how fashion looked to the streets and once again took to the trenches with John Galliano capitalizing on the trend during his tenure at Dior.

But just what accounted for the most recent revival? Although it’s been difficult to pinpoint the exact source (and let’s be honest, is there ever really one definitive source in these cases?), our current penchant for camo has probably been brewing since 2010 when military styles re-emerged on womenswear runways.

Nevertheless, it’s not all that common for womenswear and menswear trends to meet and merge as camo has done in the past year. In this vein, two words: Nick Wooster. The tats-and-monkstraps fashion-week fixture has pretty much single-handedly ushered in a new craving for camo, through his much-documented personal style or numerous design collaborations.

GQ claims it’s here to stay, for another year at least.

At long last giving London menswear the platform it deserves, the British Fashion Council launched London Collections: MEN in June. Encompassing an array of British menswear aesthetics from Savile Row tailoring to contemporary sportswear, LCM emphasises the equal importance of both the creative and commercial imperatives of menswear design.Its third season (AW13) gets underway January 7th 2013, with the most extensive roster yet.
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While I’m sure there are scores more moments worth mentioning, these five have been the most prominent for me personally, whether a trend, a momentous move for the fostering of new talent or someone with style for days.

What stood out for you?

P.S. Happy New Year y’all!
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Images from Southdacola and LCM

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Season’s Greetings: Sean McGirr

No stranger to the blog, London-based menswear designer, Burberry and Vogue Hommes Japan alumnus, and lover of all things kawaiiSean McGirr bids you season’s greetings…

Male-Mode: What are your plans for Christmas and the holiday season?

Sean McGirr: I’ll be working on finishing my AW 2013/14 collection around Christmas but other that that, I’m going home to my family for one week! It’ll be the longest I’ve been home for a few years actually – so christmas movies and some trashy clubs are awaiting!

What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

It’s been a really good year for my work so there are many highlights. I had fun working on a fashion film with Kevin Gaffney so we’re preparing to work on another now.

If you could give just one gift this year, what would it be?

Hmnm I’d give a subscription to Arena Homme Plus because I really like the new issues. Also, flights to Japan inculding round-trip on the Shinkansen bullet-train and bursaries for students – I’d be super generous!

And if you could receive just one gift this year, what would that be?

Roxxxy the robot!
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See more from Sean on the blog here & here | Learn more about Sean McGirr

Alan Taylor AW12: Concept and Commerce.

There’s been a lot of love for the Irish fashion diaspora in London; from designers like Simone Rocha, Steve Corcoran (who you may remember from here) and Sorcha O’ Raghallaigh to stylists like Angela Scanlon and Twin Magazine’s Celestine Cooney. A recent addition is NCAD graduate Alan Taylor, whose work has its basis in a breed of simplicity that’s not unusual to Irish designers, but is made that bit more complex with the forefront-of-fashion peculiarity synonymous with London. Here, we talk Dublin, London, the state of menswear, and kilts.

^ Alan Taylor photographed by Hedi Slimane

Male-Mode: You studied fashion design in Dublin (NCAD) and worked closely with Simone Rocha for several seasons (London) – what was the most important thing you took from each of these experiences?

Alan Taylor: It was the people in Dublin that made it. There is such an amazing network of people who really push us to do better, rather than compete against each other. London, and working with Simone, was learning all the details they can’t teach you in university. I got to see the business grow from the ground up, being a part of everything from the production meetings to the show-rooms in Paris.

 Your AW12 collection might be termed ‘conceptual’ or ‘avant-garde’, for want of better words, but there are still plenty of wearable pieces amongst the experimentation – what are your priorities when designing for men, wearability, imaginative concept or…?

I have a kind of ethos, which is I don’t want my work to be an over-the-top departure from contemporary menswear, rather a development of classic ideas with a fresh take on construction and fabrication. I always want creativity to be at the forefront of my work but I know that fashion is a business at the end of the day, so I look to achieve the perfect balance between the conceptual and the commercial.


The collection seems to be a clash of traditionally masculine tailoring and a not-so-hidden femininity (kilts, plenty of sheer pieces), do you try to disregard conservative notions of what what might deemed socially gender-appropriate when designing?

Not necessarily, I try to keep my designs masculine, but fuck with it a little through the fabrication and garments – like with the kilt. I think that aesthetically and socially it feels like it fits, the clean lines of the pleats and the silhouette compliment the other garments in my collection and the expansion of menswear as an industry has taken a considerable leap in the past few years.

Men are becoming more aware of not only what they wear but how their clothing is made, the quality and the background of every garment. The kilt is also pushing the entirety of men’s silhouettes; kilts even three years ago would have seemed very feminine. I want to make an ‘Alan Taylor’ kilt a very masculine and understated garment to the extent that when the wearer puts it on, he is so comfortable with the idea of wearing it that he completely forgets he is wearing it at all.

What are the dominant fabrics in the collection? 

The focus for this collection was black wax cotton, net and tweed. I like the juxtaposition of textures in my work.


And a couple more candid questions (as suggested by Twitter followers!)…

What are you wearing?

Converse, Cheap Monday jeans, white t-shirt, and a John Rocha jumper.

Would you wear a kilt?

 I’d wear a kilt.

If you could have designed any other collection in history, which one would it have been?

Comme des Garcons Spring Summer 2008 Womenswear, Rei Kawakubo at her colourful best.

Jil Sander Spring Summer 2009 Womenswear, Raf Simons’ pattern-cutting with water.

Early Madame Grés work – her innovation in sculpture through pleating was mind-blowing for her time.

Although the three collections I mentioned are womenswear, I see a designer’s work as a statement of their overall manifesto that shouldn’t be dictated by the gender of the wearer. Rei Kawakubo is a master of both concept and colour, Raf Simons can make a four-layer outfit look as light as a t-shirt and shorts, not to mention his innovation in construction, and Madame Grés is, in my opinion, one of the main influences for contemporary conceptual fashion design.
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Learn more about Alan Taylor

Print Monkey: Official Launch and Discount Codes Ahoy.

Despite the chilly temperatures and crisp air, I’ve seen more sun in one week in Berlin than I’d seen for months back home in Dublin. Summer is well and truly on its way and being the nostalgic sap that I am, I can’t help but think about all the London frolics from last Summer, all the v. lovely, inspiring people doing it for themselves (throwing gargantuan themed parties, converting old warehouses), rather than waiting for others to get the ball rolling which was kind of the case in Dublin at the time…
One such person was Ruth, whose infectious enthusiasm and astounding work ethic has recently convinced two others (Karen and Dave) to band together with her in founding a print tee label. Unpretentiously titled Print Monkey, the label offers painstakingly designed prints on classic 100% American Apparel tees (so no woeful Fruit of the Loom quality) at an affordable price-point of £19.95.
^ Cogs Tee

^ Heart Tee

^ Ace Card Tee

^ Stag’s Head Tee
If you’re interested in meeting the lovelies behind it all, head to the Launch Party on Wednesday April 6th at The Corner Shop in Shoreditch. If you can’t make it, or you’re already itching to make a purchase, go ahead and take 20% off with this rather hilarious-when-read-out-loud discount code:
COCFOPM226

Oh, and they do women’s, too!

LCF MA Review: Matteo Molinari

Yesterday, if you had mentioned crochet, menswear, and LCF ‘Collection of the Year’ award in the same sentence, I most likely would’ve spat “INJUSTICE!” in your face. Now, though, I’ve had my tune entirely changed having pored over the stunning designs (which meld together crochet and razor-sharp tailoring) of LCF grad and Collection of the Year award-winner Matteo Molinari.

As you can imagine, it’s nigh on impossible to see these pieces and not want to interrogate the genius who fashioned them in the first place so, without further ado…

MM: You studied communication before turning to the world of
fashion design. What led to this decision? And why
menswear as opposed to womenswear?

M Molinari: I have a BA in Communication and an MA in Philosophy of Languages and Semiotics.

My previous residency was Bologna,
the oldest university in the World. My decision to study there for my BA and
MA was not random: in Bologna there is a department active that
works exclusively on semiotic and related disciplines (as in
philosophy of the languages, linguistic studies, logic, analysis
practices for art, mass media, photography etc).
This is quite unique, my department was the only in Italy
and one of the few in Europe.

I studied communication in the widest sense of the word: from
written pieces and literature, to the analysis of art pieces,
performances and cultural artefacts. Not just mass media or
magazines; actually, I specialized in something very different:
interpretative semiotic, phenomenology and post-structuralistic
analysis practices with a final thesis about the silhouette and a
proposed methodology of fashion analysis based on the
works of Roland Barthes, Charles Sander Peirce and many
others.

After so much theoretical exercise I felt the need to apply my
knowledge to the fashion design practice so I applied to the
MA in Fashion Design and Technology at LCF.

About the differences between menswear and womenswear I can
say that these differences are not just based in the kind of clothes, which are suitable for one or the other gender; the differences are more
culturally and sociologically based. I see my design research and
production as a practical investigation of what ‘male’ and
‘female’ mean. My sometimes androgynous aesthetic is a reflection of
this. So I don’t see a very deep and stable separation between
womenswear and menswear. The borderline is continuously re-
negotiated in the design process.

MM: I see traces of everything from matadors to Raf Simons in
your MA graduate collection. What was your inspiration?

M Molinari: I was amused by the notation which highlights the movements
necessary to produce a piece of crochet lace. Small dots, lines,
and circles printed on a white page can create an intricate and
beautiful piece of work if correctly interpreted by a skilled artist.
I developed my patterns starting from the crochet panelling. I
used crochet not like an embellishment but as an important part of
the pattern.

Crochet is a feminine technique, a knowledge shared between
mothers and daughters in Italy. Doing menswear based on it
pushed me to reflect about a lot of social and cultural implications of gender, differences between art and craft and the non-natural but merely cultural concept of masculine and feminine.

MM: Your collection plays with silhouette, exaggerating
proportion and yet remaining elegant and wearable all the
while. Was it your intention to focus on cut and silhouette in
particular?

M Molinari: Usually young designers are experimenting more with extreme
styles and eye-catching proposals and weird looks.
Keeping that in mind, I tried to be different taking the
traditional men’s wardrobe as my starting point, working on men’s essentials: the
suits, the trench-coat, the coat and the white shirt. I changed
proportions and I developed a silhouette, a persona: sharp for
tailoring and structured and architectural for the coats adding the
cross-gender twist of using handmade lace in a graphic and
masculine way.

I’ve been focused on tailoring and hand-made crafts because
these elements are a huge part of my Italian heritage.
It sounds like a stereotype but I pay so much attention to the
pattern-cutting process to get the shapes I wanted. The silhouette
is distinctive and the cut of the clothes, accurate and thoughtful.
The quality of the clothes was a central element.
The structure of the collection reflects it: tailored pieces,
coats, trenchcoats, shirts and high waist trousers, no fancy,
draped or overstyled outfits.

MM: Many might see crochet as something exclusively for
women interesting in reviving the 1970s but you seamlessly
work it into your tailored pieces. What attracted you to the
art of crochet?

M Molinari: I am attracted to the mathematical nature of the crochet
lace. It’s a well known fact that some crochet stitches have a
geometrical fractal nature and development. This element attracted
me to develop a collection where the crochet was not a surface
embellishment but the starting point of my pattern cutting. I
designed and created the crochet panelling first and, according
to them, the rest of the garment in woven fabric.

MM: What was the highlight of designing and then showing
your MA collection?

M Molinari: Personal satisfaction and a great chance for exposure for my
work and the way I intend for modern male fashion to be.

^ Molinari wins Collection of the Year, presented by LCF Alumnus and Chairman of the BFC Harold Tillman.

MM: What are your plans for the future?

A spring summer collection, some design collaborations and a
more theoretical developing of my work on heritage and hand
made techniques.

Raf Simons: A History of Rebellion @ LN-CC.

I’ve been coming over all Belgian of late despite trying to make semi-concrete plans for London menswear next Wednesday. Whilst I should probably be coordinating how I’m going to leg it from Somerset House to the East End and fit in eats and meets with London mates in between, I’m instead poring over the work of the Antwerp Six, and fellow Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts alumnus Raf Simons who’s succeeded them.
It started, I suppose, when a friend v. generously loaned me the below…
^ Belgian Fashion Design edited by Luc Derycke and Sandra Van De Veire
This if one of those fashion tomes that’s as much go-to reference book/bible, as it is pretty coffee table book. Packed full of Q+As with, and images of work from, Belgium’s lauded and somewhat more under the radar designers, it’s an essential if you’re at all interested in fashion or are bit of a Taschen/Azzouline nerd, or both, like myself.
Anyway, since that, LN-CC have only gone and got all love-y with Simons, too. Next Thurs Feb 24th sees the London concept store hold Raf Simons: A History of Rebellion, an archive private sales evening (you’ve got to register to attend) with an after-party to boot. Taking the uncompromising vision and stark, distinctive aesthetic of Simons’ designs as its theme, the event will offer the designers’ devotees an unparalleled opportunity to nab some of the most lusted after pieces in fashion history.
Having accumulated an extensive collection of pieces dating from the last 10 years of Simons’ career, LN-CC will be offering the goods at prices close to their original selling price, with stock, obviously, being very limited.
Were I not jetting back on the morning of this event (bloody typical) and, you know, scandalously broke, I’d be hoping for a bit of this…
^ Raf Simons Autumn Winter 2009

…and this…
^ Raf Simons Spring Summer 2009
…and a touch of this…
^ Raf Simons Spring Summer 2011
Here’s a few tasters of what’s definitely on offer…

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Raf Simons: A History of Rebellion is at LN-CC (18 Shacklewell Lane, Dalston, London, E8 2EZ) on Thurs Feb 24th from 6-9PM. Register your interest to attend here
The beat goes on ’til late in store with Richard D. Clouston.
Catwalk images from GQ.com

Farewell 2010: This Year in Fashion.

NYE, and all I’ve heard so far is people passionately listing the reasons as to why 2010 was ultimately a good, or bad year for them. Honestly, am feeling as though I’m out on a limb since I can’t quite come down on one side or the other. With resolutions of boundless positivity and enthusiasm for 2011 (not built to last), I’m going to halt the wavering and say 2010 was another year to remember for all the right reasons. Here’s just a bit of what’s informed the decision…

LONDON FASHION WEEK

Soon after professional fash-bloggers began storming fashion weeks the world over, I chanced my arm in doing the same, and to my indescribable amazement, was actually accepted. Granted, it’s London, and not one of the major capitals but considering this fact did little to appease feverish boyish excitement. After an incredible experience at the SS10 shows, I returned in Feb of this year for the AW10 round-up.

Carolyn Massey, Orschel-Read, James Long, Omar Kashoura – it was a veritable feast and I relished every moment whilst intermittently, and very subtly, slapping myself to remind myself that these incredible designers were actually permitting me see their careers develop live on the catwalk. Bit mad.


CAROLYN MASSEY

Seeing a collection you love in its entirety is one thing (Carolyn Massey’s Autumn Winter ’10 Obsolete Prototype C53). Getting to intern with the designer who created said collection is another. When I arrived in London this Summer I’d intended to pursue an opportunity like this, but I never expected to secure it.

My sojourn at Massey’s Hackney studio was both fulfilling and relentlessly sweaty (not induced by over-work, but muggy London-in-Summer temperatures). From here I visited ASOS and Dazed HQ, was introduced to stylists from 7th Man and POP magazines and after having awed over the inner workings of a Northampton shoe factory, was given the finger by its workers on departure. Incredible. And although she’s not showing this coming season, there’s plenty more to come from La Massey.

1883 MAGAZINE

Time not spent at the studio during the Summer was time for writing. Having met Alicia and Paul of 1883 some time in June, I was set the task given the pleasure of interviewing six international up-and-comers from the likes of model Tali Lennox (there may at first have been a dictaphone cock-up but shhh…) to designers Fannie Schiavoni (both stunning and charming) and Angie Johnson of Norwegian Wood (she took the time out to Skype just days before getting wed!).

I’m so proud to be a part of the debut issue of this magazine monument to the next generation of fashion talent – here’s to lots more 1883 in 2011.


ASOS

At some point in 2010 I placed my first order at ASOS. I have never looked back. 2011 better not batter my wallet to the same extent.

Oh, and the lovely Steve of Style Salvage also thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to plaster my mug on the homepage for a bit (alongside other men’s style bloggers). Although this makes me shudder now (styling…not the photography), I console myself with the fact that I had just landed and was living from a suitcase of naff tat. Regardless, thanks Steve!


FRIENDS
Above all, and at the risk of sounding squirm-inducingly cringe-worthy, I’ve met so many amazing people this year including: Hanna ter Meulen, Dan Hasby Oliver, Aisling Farinella, Annmarie O’ Connor, Angela Scanlon, Ali, Stephen Moloney, SOS Fi and the LDN bloggers, Elliott James Sainsbury, Lil, London mates and Dublin folks – y’all know who you are.

Lastly, this blog has brought me places and offered me opportunities I’d never have imagined when I started it in the boglands of rural Ireland in 2007. Obviously, without you, the readers, it’d have been a dud from the get-go. So, thanks. Ever so.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

x

Images from BFC, Anne Bernecker, and ASOS

YMC’s New Hanbury Street Home.

One of London’s worst kept secrets – but brilliant nonetheless – is the Truman Brewery’s Sunday Up Market. Although most of my times spent there, browsing in a hungover stupor, yielded little more than serious pangs for falafel, it’s still one of the city’s best offerings in terms of feel-good atmosphere and great shopping.
Now, with the arrival of one of the most sought-after independent labels – YMC – to nearby 23 Hanbury Street, the area’s packing even more appeal. Having opened its first store in Soho’s Poland Street, YMC have taken their off-kilter yet easily worn and feverishly desired brand to the East End. The store itself draws heavily on Victorian inspiration; think macabre meets industrial: abattoirs, mausoleums, schools and factories, with most of the pieces housed within being vintage finds from around the world (post-war wood prosthetic limbs, anyone?).
^ The store-front features stained-glass lettering (YMC) and an original timepiece from the 1930s-era Old Street tube station – a double-faced clock.
^ In keeping with all things industrial, the interior is decorated with irregular sized white brick tiles. In the centre lies an authentic mausoleum slab, and another (to the back) serves as a desk. Not forgetting about the Victorian strain of influence, the clothing rails are custom-made from original Victorian nut carts.

^ Some of the delectations on offer.
Although I was invited to a preview of the store, I couldn’t quite make it across the Irish Sea in time to talk with Fraser Moss, founder of the brand, on all things YMC. However, had I done, I probably would’ve worn something along the lines of this…
^ YMC Bib-front Henley shirt – £65.00

^ YMC Classic chinos – £125.00

^ YMC Despatch coat – £295.00

^ YMC Toe Cap shoe – £175.00

Will you be paying it a visit next time you’re East End-bound?

Morgan O’ Donovan’s The Facebook Project.

‘Alternative’ nightclub photography, once the reserve of East London’s art-infused after-hours urban landscape, has exploded on the Dublin scene during the course of the past couple of years. Influenced by the renowned shots of heady nights at Boombox (as captured by Richard Mortimer/DirtyDirtyDancing), Dublin’s dance-floor paps have brought to the table visual proof of our being the best race to party. But an Irishman abroad (fast becoming my favourite phrase…) acclaimed for his work for everyone from i-D to Vogue, photographer Morgan O’ Donovan, has decided to reveal the homogeneity beneath the mass of heavily made-up-with-MAC faces of the fashion and art types that populate these places.
^ The Facebook Project by Morgan O’ Donovan
 For The Facebook Project, Donovan took it upon himself to photograph over 500 portraits of people in “varying states of sobriety” reveling in East London clubs. The point of difference between this and what’s graced thousands of Facebook photo album covers and profile pictures, is the harsh exposure of a medical photography flash, which strips away facades to allow for more a accurate insight. Blemishes and imperfections are suddenly apparent beneath the layers of artfully applied slap, which leads to a portrayal of these supposed individuals, as more of an homogenous group. 
Or put simply, each club-goer is shot in such a way that you’ll recongise them come Monday morning. Oddly – and I do know it wasn’t O’ Donovan’s intention to make them look bad, but that flash could prove fatal to vanity – I think a lot of the subjects look gorge…

The Facebook Project is at Dalston Superstore, 117 Kingsland Road, E8.
For more on the Project, including a Q+A with the creator himself, check out Dazed Digital.

Sean McGirr: An Irishman Abroad.

Have you heard? Ireland’s just gone down the plughole. Yes, we may have developed into a semi-fashion-savvy state with the aid of the Celtic Tiger (it’s disputable, but only barely – money helps), attracting international brands from the likes of Forever 21 (who recently opened their first European store here in Dublin) to New Look (who unveiled their largest store to date just a stone’s throw from the former), but we’re now firmly positioned within the pinch, what with our recent accepting of an approx. €70 billion bailout.

^ Sean McGirr worn by Next model Ben Warnock, shot by Rokas Roch
As a result, many of us – especially those involved in the more creative spheres of art, fashion, and design – are eyeing-up opportunities to emigrate. It’s a shame, but try telling Irish fashion grads that, “If the opportunities aren’t there, then make them!”, when they’re barely able to fund the electricity to power their bloody sewing machines, let alone secure a steady market for their wares. Ireland is a small nation, and although the recently launched TV advert for Dublin Airport’s second terminal reminds us of just how much we’ve achieved for such a tiny spot in the Atlantic, we’ve never enjoyed a stable fashion industry that nurtures young talent here.
Which brings to me to the point of this post – an ode to all the Irish ripping it up abroad, menswear designer Sean McGirr amongst them. Having made the move from Dublin to London on completion of a portfolio course, this fellow countryman is steadily making his mark on the international world of menswear. Still studying in London, he’s managed to secure projects with left-of-centre publications like Vogue Hommes Japan (assisting Fashion Editor Shun Watanabe), as well as a position at Burberry. I found out just a bit more about the Dublin-born designer…

MM: What drew you to fashion? And more, specifically, to menswear design?

SM: It started during my adolescence. I would experiment with dyes and materials on cheap clothing. I always enjoyed painting and this was the result of an interest in both clothing and art coming together. Design then came afterwards. I guess specialising in menswear never seemed like a choice. It just felt completely natural that i’d go in this direction.


^ More from the Rokas Rach shoot. Love how McGirr combines the rawness of a deconstructed approach with the more playful, boyish details like the big buttons and sleeveless arms.

MM: What motivated you to move to London? Was it the lack of education for your chosen craft, or something more?

SM: For me it just wasn´t right to study fashion outside of a fashion capital. I love Dublin and Ireland so much! But I was definitely ready to leave. I think the motivation on moving to London came from also from social reasons, not just educational. A teenage boy in Dublin is supposed to fit into a specific catagory factoring in your appearence, sexual preference, musical tastes etc. I wasn´t happy with this so instead, moving to London was also a way of creating my own social identity.

^ McGirr’s accessories feature in a beauty story equal parts high-octane glam and punk for Vogue Hommes Japan (September 2010).

MM: Do you feel your nationality/heritage influences your work?

SM: I think it influences everything else I am besides fashion. So, no, not in the way say Vivienne Westwood´s British sensibility has influenced her work.

^ McGirr’s collection Beauty Stricken inspired by a Ballet Russes production of the ballet ‘Narcissus’. This collection uses, amongst other fabrics, suede and mohair is rendered in colours reminiscent of those one might imagine occurring in the Greek protagonist’s environment  – moss greens, and soft flesh pink. It also addresses one of the most topical stories in menswear right now – the ever-increasing feminisation of the male form and how it’s adorned. McGirr, much like myself, reckons this isn’t an emasculation in a negative sense, but more a blurring a softening of once dominant gender stereotypes.

MM: How would you describe your aesthetic?

SM: Simple – experimental use of high quality fabrics, close attention to trimmings and everything together comes after that.

MM: What are your plans for the future?

SM: To launch an Autumn Winter 2011 collection early next year, travel back to Japan soon and keep on working an intense schedule.

For more check out Sean’s blog and website.