As a platform formed around supporting emerging fashion businesses, MAN is a laudable initiative that, since it was founded in 2005, has allowed young menswear designers trying to break into the competitive British fashion industry to be able to flourish and display their creations. The scheme is a joint venture between clothing brand Topman and non-profit organisation Fashion East and it provides support to a selected group of budding designers in form of bursaries, assistance with the production of runway shows, and marketing and business advice. For the Spring/Summer 2014 season, the panel that decided who would receive support included Alister Mackie (AnOtherMan fashion director), Andrew Davies (Wonderland men’s fashion director), Ben Reardon (GQ Style editor), Luke Day (GQ Style Fashion Director), Nichola Formichetti (AnOtherMan senior fashion director and Vogue Hommes Japan fashion director), Sam Lobban (Mr Porter buyer) and Tim Blanks (Style.com editor-at-large). Their final choices were: Craig Green (for the second season) and newcomers Bobby Abley and Alan Taylor, all of whom went on to show their designs during London Collections: Men on 16 June 2013.
Of the three young designers, Alan Taylor stood out for a consistent and elegant collection that explored how the notion of juxtaposition can be used to engender silhouettes. Inspired by how fashion writer Charlie Porter posts images of runway shows and models upside-down on his blog, Taylor styled some of his looks with copies of the garments worn on the models’ torsos hanging down from their waists, creating a duality of the silhouette that questioned the concepts of presentation and juxtaposition.
Drawing inspiration from the paintings of Francis Bacon, Taylor used hand-painted grey linen alongside traditional Irish Magee Tweeds, thus reinforcing the idea of concurrence between modernity and tradition. The shapes chosen for the collection also combined opposite lines, such as cropped trouser legs and blazer sleeves contrasting with fitted cotton shirts and wide T-shirt sleeve lines. Similarly, a neutral charcoal grey contrasted with multicoloured patterns, particularly in the very seductive knitwear pieces. Sheer blazers made from folded layers of black organza added a sophisticated and mature touch to the collection that Taylor had also explored in his Autumn/Winter 2013 collection.
After graduating in 2010 from a BA Fashion at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin (where he was born in 1987), Alan Taylor moved to London and worked for Alexander McQueen, Agi & Sam and with Simone Rocha on three of her seasons before founding his own label in 2011. His work has since been featured in fashion blogs and magazines such as Style Salvage, W, Italian Vogue, Hero and Dazed & Confused.
Photographs courtesy of MAN / Alan Taylor