MARKING his debut at Milan Fashion Week, Charles Jeffrey’s latest runway transported us to a fantasy world. The Scottish designer, recognised for his fluid designs and use of tartan upon tartan took the hallmark opportunity to create an imaginary, hellish realm as inspiration for the garments, with a fictional narrative present from beginning to end.
Divided into three tiers, the Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY AW23 show was titled The Engine Room. The so called “room” refers to an imaginary underworld filled with toxic fumes and haphazard machinery, a purgatory for its residents. Formatted as a sort of story book, the show details the different social hierarchies present in Jeffrey’s fictional fantasy.
Up first we have the workers, who with their gloomy smudged makeup, square toe shoes and gas lamps look as if they have emerged from a pit (perhaps a reference to the designer’s Scottish heritage). The workers are characterised through oversize tailoring, warm colourful knits and LOVERBOY signatures, like eared knit beanies and logomania berets.
Above the workers are the posers, who have been granted retribution from the hellish engine room and exist in the luxury boutiques and serene streets of the heavenly city of Ajuka. Think of them as the NPCs of this story. Unlike the workers, they are more expressive with their wardrobe, with layers of mismatched fabric, metallic accessories and bold colours becoming their signatures. Notably, the garments also get a lot more free-flowing in comparison to that of the doomed workers who reside below them, keeping their city afloat in the sky.
At the very top of the social scale are the snakes, gossip mongers who journal the city news. Unlike the the other two categories, the clothing of the snakes is largely monochromatic, reminiscent of printed newspaper, while also alluding to the uniform of an ethereal fairytale villain.
Though still a relatively new designer, Charles Jeffrey has quickly established his signatures, and though divided into three separate tiers his latest AW23 is no exception, and furthers his visual dialogue with a collection that is as cohesive as it is intriguing.