If the fallout from the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to rip up the rulebook. Which is exactly what Charles Jeffrey is doing for AW22. Opting out of a traditional fashion show in order to launch his newest collection via a film, ‘happening’, and soon – a vinyl.
Speaking about the project and its context as following the last LOVERBOY collection and show, Charles wanted to make a clear departure from the physical event for this season, instead producing a multimedia presentation that highlighted the sense of community and craftsmanship that went into this season. “With everything that’s going on, I just think that (a show) is just for one moment, for a certain group of people, it’s just serving this whole kind of hype-y, celebrity driven moment. I totally get it and get the allure of it, but it just doesn’t really sit with me anymore. I just love image-making and being able to operate in our own space, our own stage.”
As well as telling the story of the collection through photographs and film, LOVERBOY’s artist in residence Rory Mullen designed the set for a 70s NYC inspired ‘happening’. LOVERBOY is also making music this season, with Charles, Tom Furse from The Horrors and Robert Fox (a video and spoken word artist) creating an album together to be released in tandem with the collection drop in June.
Inspiration for the collection began with the documentary ‘Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell’, who’s dedication made up the main source of inspiration for Charles. Never one to do things by half, this collection can be understood and experienced through three categories –
- ‘The Physical’, a literal approach, informed by cubist artists like Picasso and George Braque,
- ‘The Cultural’, which considers musicians as personalities and the styles associated with them, zeroing in on New York in the late 70s/early 80s,
- And ‘The Emotional’ – which examines the way music makes us feel inside and explores how that could be interpreted visually.
Speaking on the pressures of constant production, Charles also noted that he’s shifting his focus to release things as and when they’re ready. “I do believe in London Fashion Week, but I just think we’re at that stage now where we can just release things when we want to”. Here, Charles hits on a central concern for brands, with many choosing to define their own schedule, outside of the regulated norm. For AW22, there’s a complete emphasis on community, too – the designer made sure to include and celebrate all members of his team, old and new.
The collection itself is broad, varied, and playful: LOVERBOY’s familiar tartan is worked into tote bags, overshirts, skirts and hats, and complemented with colourful knits, two-pieces and colourblocked pieces. Elsewhere, a metallic silver trench, part of a group of all-silver ensembles, recalls the aesthetic of the 80s, whilst branded LOVERBOY boxers have been turned into a bag.
Charles’ favourite piece? A neon tapestry short suit, but also the tailoring in general – saying “I love the tailoring this season, it’s super slick – slinky fits with larger shoulders really portray the 80s feel that inspired the collection”. A striking thing about previewing the new LOVERBOY collection was its tangible styling narrative too, in which the designer conceptualised a first, “eclectic” album for the initial looks, a second sophomore album which is “more confident, more themed”, and then the last looks in the collection represent “the final legs of their tour – they’re established, they know what they’re doing”.
Using this narrative on the collection itself, we’d have to say that LOVERBOY’s AW22 falls somewhere between the second and third stages: confident, impressive and assured, but far from being on its last legs. In many ways, Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY is just getting started.