Each season, Astrid Andersen finds new ways to combine the elaborate and the opulent with the easy. Her sportswear is formal - it's about dressing up and turning heads just as much as the showy tailoring on neighbouring runways is. She's aware of the contradictions and paradoxes that exist in the modern menswear market and uses them to her advantage. Today, she was playing with the interplay between past and present, tradition and future. It was a trip to Shanghai and a good look at the Chinese fashion and cultural landscape - on one hand embracing modernity and Euoprean brands with open arms, on the other keen to protect geographic peculiarities and homespun style - that had got her musing on that theme.
Andersen's looked to Asia and Oriental dress before, but there was a delicacy to this season that felt new. It was visible not only in the half polite, half saccharine pallette of baby blue, pastel purple and silver and the dainty flower embellishments - rendered using heat transfers thanks to a collaboration with Avery Dennison RBIS. But Andersen is the master of combining - she knows her shopper is man enough to not worry about wearing a hue that could have been lifted straight from a teeny, delicate Chinese tea set. She called the collection 'an homage to men who dare to dress bravely and have a point of view.' Aptly Andersen's 'muse' A$AP Ferg - who recently collaborated with the designer on a fashion film - was sat front row. Not afraid of fashion, this is the same man that once declared in an interview that the world wasn't ready for his and his mob's groundbreaking styles - 'We have a head of genius in us, because we could foresee the future...When we were ahead of our time, we were being bashed for it.' Don't chuckle. He has a point. A few years ago, say six season ago before London Collections: Men had begun, few would think that a collection comprised of throwback baggies and silky, branded shirts would feel so relevant and current. Andersen may have been engaging in a bit of retrofuturism with her proud nods to the nineties, but really her work is utterly modern. She's the new establishment and her muses are the new icons. Those who don't get it or don't like it are soon to be left behind.