Alan Taylor is a new(ish) designer from Dublin, working in Dalston, but his clothes are like no other. Others have already spotted this and due to the abundance of good press that this talented designer has received I can put together an honest, fact filled review of this revelatory collection.
His concept for the collection was detailed by Dazed Digital, as in the interview he said;
The main inspiration this season was taking part of the theory of the fourth dimension, basically if we were fourth dimensional beings looking at three dimensional objects we wouldn’t see the two dimensional view that our eyes perceive normally – we would theoretically see every single side of the object simultaneously.
This focus is quite atypical of most young designers, who might use a little burst of inspiration lighting to keep a whole collection going (doesn’t work), but he is looking at the long term of his designs and how they will be viewed long after their release. His idea in itself, creating clothing for 4 dimensional beings, is impressively intelligent and made me think, long and hard on how he designed the clothing and how well his ideas manifested themselves in fabric. He is poking holes in the whole medium for communication of fashion design. When the clothes are photographed or seen, despite the intention of better beings wearing(?) them, we still see the 2D version of the garment. And in that we always have more to find than on the first look of a garment. Style Salvage Steve admired his ‘textural trickery’, and this obsession with construction and development pushes the collection into a new realm of menswear, more in tune with established womenswear designs from Hussein Chalayan (his AW13 transform dresses has me speechless) or Rei Kawakubo (‘the infinity of tailoring‘). “It was about pushing it whilst still keeping the classic shapes that we have now.“
Another common factor is the emotion felt from the designs themselves. The ‘trippy’ concept is so far out there that its realisation seems logical in all who see the jackets within jackets and on jackets. I felt it had more spiritual and cosmic vibes with the constellation coat embroidery and sharp coat vents cut in the middle of sleeves. They created a black hole, both in concept and design, so shattering the original silhouette of a coat to make it more singular to his vision and yet appealing. Normally that sort of detail would be made to have a rich-hobo, disheveled dictator look, and though it was forceful, it was meant to be there. This theme of slight off but totally on recurs in pleated kilts subverted by a diagonal line of fabric, in coats with irregular hems and netting additions to pants attracting attention thereby making legs look longer and sleeker. The expertly tailored parachute pants had the same effect.
The jackets within jackets felt like they were shadowing the original structure. But then I question, what was the original structure, the jackets made of tweed or of netting? They were both offered in incarnations on either side of each other, as lining and as an outer; almost like a doppelganger at work , or an angel protector with the white netting coming out of the back. On his design process: “I start with a shell and it often becomes something quite different. I always try and design the inside at the same time as the outside. I love designing every part of an item. For me, the details have to be as interesting on the inside as they are on the outside.” It gives a melancholy feeling of uncertainty that draws the mind to the meaning of the clothes and that it must be worn to have full effect. I also thought it may refer to the different personas and conventions that humans take on in daily life because there is so much to be seen and discovered. Layering different coloured netting worked especially well in the last look where red and black are used in specific places to resemble the inner human anatomy. Such great effort and control went into cuts so perfectly fitting and flattering to male physique, couple with a simple colour palette that enhanced the ideas within, due also to the lovely tweeds. On further research these were newly developed textiles the designer worked on with an Irish Mill called Magee tweeds, divulging to Style Salvage;
“For my last collection, I used a mix that is woven using the classic tweed techniques but with an added silk yarn, so it is much lighter and much more breathable. I was blown away. It was the same again this season when the Head Designer proudly brought out the latest tweeds. They were amazing. I just had to have them.”
The whole collection is polished to perfection and, as I have mentioned before, seems like the work of a more accomplished and experienced designer. Though what I think drove him to create such fine menswear was the ambition of putting a theoretical idea into visual form and experience. This may sound like an English analysis, but these clothes really and truly need to be analysed on first look. It is varied, with all matter of suits, trousers, coats, kilts and shirts to appease a client with an “incredibly strong personality, bridging on arrogant but without being an asshole.” It is accessible great design, that admittedly may look ‘weird’ in a whole look, but when you break it up, like Comme des Garçons, it becomes easy to wear. There are obvious Thom Browne references, but those have become popular culture now so probably not as valid, in the cropped trousers and waist length blazers but with his touch of a hem longer than another and a heart-shaped neck I have seen nowhere else. His experience is short albeit, working with Simone Rocha for three seasons before launching his own label, but the collections progress in leaps and bounds. Compare this AW collection to AW12 and there are some similarities, in the skewed cuts of jackets, new shapes and pleated kilts, but certainly the man he is designing for is more grown up and self assured. Even his SS13, looked like an incubation of these dimensional ideas with light layered fabrics and similar cuts. AW13 is sort of an awakening of his continuing aesthetic, mind you the professional lookbook could have played a part.
He is too good to be unnoticed for a place to show at the next London Collections: Men, confirmed for SS14 from 16th-18th June 2013 (!!). I agree with Steve that that he needs to be picked up by MAN, because with more support and guidance, he really has the potential to be one of the greats and I would hate to see him fade as others have because of monetary woes. When I saw this collection, the message came to me as the future man. Hopefully, with some business support he can enlighten the masses of the future and bring his future to fashion’s present, which needs a bit of a kick up the arse to get current, epoch-defining menswear established.
Whole collection from his website, plus detail shots from Style Salvage: