Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Menswear Day Catwalk Review: D.GNAK by KANG.D

Illustration by Romain Lambert-Louis

It’s good thing it’s starting to feel like spring outside, rx as listening to Lulu and the Lampshades in the dead of winter strikes me as being something akin to torture. This is music that makes me want to ride my bicycle along gravel roads, healing slurping down iced lollies and squinting as the sunshine pokes through my eyelashes.

There is a lot of sweetness to Lulu and the Lampshades – starting with the playfulness of the name itself, link down to the music which is a bucketful of sunshine. At least that was my first impression, before I listened to the new ‘Cold Water’ EP. The only thing I’d heard of the London-based foursome before was ‘Feet to the sky’, a cheery little number with an even cheerier video, but for a release with just four tracks, ‘Cold Water’ does an impressive job of delivering diversity.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

My favourite thing about Lulu and the Lampshades is probably main singer Luisa Gerstein’s voice – a rich, chocolatey sound which makes you think of bigger songs and swoonier music productions. But the stripped back style of the Lulu songs do an excellent job of accompanying Luisa. The overall effect is something akin to listening to your favourite act playing at a musical, just a few feet away and it feels like they‘re playing just for you.

It certainly sounds like the Lulus having fun though, skipping along (or at least that’s what it sounds like) on the title track ’Cold Water’. Although the lyrics tell a more complex story: ’I hate to be wrapped in cotton although I think it’s better for me / Yes I see there’s trouble but it’s proven to me I’m better off this way’ … I’m not sure if the music and lyrics are mismatched, or if Luisa is simply the happiest when causing a bit of trouble?

Illustration by Mhairi-stella McEwan

Illustration by Sarah Matthews

The video to ‘Cups’, or ‘You’re gonna miss me’, has had over half a million YouTube hits, as Luisa and Heloise banging those plastic beakers into the kitchen table really needs to be seen. ‘Cups’ started out as a routine Louisa learnt at percussion class, combined with new verses and a chorus from a traditional folk song. The result is a lovely little ’all together now’ call-and-response song, but it’s that cup action that has us all going Whoa Lulu! Have a look:

‘I’ll keep my demons underground if it keeps you smiling’, Luisa sings as ‘Demons’ start. Although the flute and glockenspiel keeps things light, the darker undertones are definitely there now, both in terms of lyrics and tone. ‘Cause you’ve punctured me / I’ve ruptured at the seams and though its strange for me / I’ll do my best to keep the rest from falling out’ … But there is something fairytale-like about it too, like the stories about witches and evil creatures that we like because it gives us a chill down our backs.

‘Moccasin Mile’ mixes vocal harmonies, ukulele and some nifty drumstick action as the tempos change. ‘If you can’t be good then please be careful,’ Luisa sings … But then the flute comes in again at the chorus, as Lulu regulars Luisa, Heloise, Jemma and Dan were joined by flutist Isobel to add some extra ‘dance around the maypole’ feeling. And that’s it – four tracks are done and Lulu and the Lampshades have certainly managed to whet our appetites for a full-length album. As well as a dip in a lake that’s still a little too cold, before skipping on home with sunburnt cheeks.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

Illustration by Sarah Matthews

‘Cold Water’ by Lulu and the Lampshades is out now on Moshi Moshi. Have a look at the website for the current gig schedule, or see the YouTube channel for more music videos.

Illustration by Oliver John Quinn

After hanging out with contributor Nick for lunch during Menswear Day, information pills I hot-footed it up to Vauxhall Fashion Scout to check out D.GNAK‘s latest offerings. It was the only menswear show I’d see at the Freemasons’ Hall and it was fairly quiet. I’d enjoyed his outing last season and was looking forward to seeing how his quirky Japanese aesthetic would translate for A/W.

Contributor Georgia with Paul Weller

I bumped into contributor Georgia Takacs there and we headed into the venue, more about sitting on opposite sides so not to get the same pictures. As we sat down, she started FREAKING OUT. ‘Is that Paul Weller? IS THAT PAUL WELLER?!’ she began yelling. It turns out it was, and he was nestled on the front row with his missus and two children. Georgia immediately went over to chat to him and I took a few pictures of them together, grinned nervously at him and thought to myself that his haircut has a lot to answer for.

Illustration by Joana Faria

On with the show. In a bold move from last season’s classic tailoring with contemporary twists, Kang D (the designer behind D.GNAK) had injected strong colours, interesting knits and enormous rucksacks.

All photography by Matt Bramford

The show opened with utilitarian tailoring that you might expect George Orwell’s Winston Smith to wear dark grey baggy trousers with an apron-like upper half was teamed with a luxurious floor-length cable knit cardigan. Next, a rich pea-coat with over-sized lapels and plaid-detail shoulders.

D.GNAK as a label is quickly establishing itself as an expert in materials and textures. Wools, corduroy, tweed and cotton were all on display, spiced up using colours like mustard and burgundy.

Illustration by Rob Wallace

There’s also an eye for the unfinished – that’ll be the Japanese ma influence then – with fraid hems that look a bit like a Savile Row tailor has had the day off – but teamed with polished blazers and expensive-looking coats, this works really well.

Every man is pretty much catered for here. There’s sartorial tailoring in the form of suits and Sherlock Holmes-esque coats for the sharpest dresser; wool blazers with contrasting buttons and vibrant trousers work well for casuals; corduroy onesies will have the more fashion-forward males racing to the shops.

Ace accessories were on offer – oversized patent leather rucksacks with suede details were worn on both shoulders, buckle straps revealed helpful features like an umbrella carrier. I like.

This was a much fresher collection than last time – the same level of craftsmanship was on offer, but it’s interesting to see D-GNAK explore different pieces, experiment with colours and toy with the traditions of sartorial menswear.

See more of Joana Faria’s illustrations in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration!

Categories ,A/W 2011, ,Catwalk review, ,D.GNAK, ,Dong Jun Kang, ,Freemasons’ Hall, ,George Orwell, ,Joana Faria, ,KANG.D, ,London Fashion Week, ,ma, ,Menswear Day, ,Nineteen Eighty Four, ,Oliver John Quinn, ,Paul Weller, ,Rob Wallace, ,Savile Row, ,Sherlock Holmes, ,tailoring, ,Unfinished, ,Utilitarian, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout, ,Winston Smith

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