Monday 4th January

| BY Paul Toner

London Calling: Parnell Mooney Is Our Final Menswear Designer To Meet

On March 23, Boris Johnson put the UK into a lockdown unlike anything we had ever experienced, in order to protect the country from a health pandemic the majority of us had never witnessed before. A mere two months earlier we’d barged through bustling crowds at London Fashion Week Men’s (LFWM), our knees brushing up against each other as we sat tightly packed into narrow rows within busy venues dotted across the capital. Totally unaware of the storm brewing in the distance. This was to be the last LFWM as we knew it. As the global fashion schedule came to a standstill in the face of Covid-19, the British Fashion Council took the opportunity to rethink the seasonal calendar entirely. Moving forward, London Fashion Week would become one gender-neutral platform, and its first iteration would be solely digital, held this past June. 

Many London designers – not long out of university and entirely independent – didn’t have access to a studio, never mind physical resources, during lockdown. Instead, each faced the task of steering the codes that have shaped their brand thus far into uncharted waters, a URL unknown. Some crafted virtual-reality exhibitions and made capsule collections from deadstock, others decided not to show at all. So we spoke to the talent behind 10 of the city’s most promising brands to find out how they approached a season no one could have imagined. 

Rory Parnell Mooney has kept himself rather busy during lockdown. He spent most of his days between isolated time in his studio and Zoom tutorials with students from London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins, where he has been teaching since he pressed pause on his eponymous line in 2017.

Having hurtled straight out of university into the pressures that come with three seasons at Fashion East, the designer realised he wasn’t ready to launch his own label back then. Now the time has come, and he’s doing things his own way. Having taken his place again in the fashion sphere in June 2019, Parnell Mooney has crafted a wearable and sensual oeuvre, one that looks to Al Pacino’s Cruising, kitsch Halloween celebrations, growing up in Ireland and his days drinking in the park as a teen. Skin-tight tops with keyhole inserts have become a go-to, as have PVC trousers with rings at the rear. Perfect for getting up to all sorts of mischief.

Before the world went into lockdown, what did you have planned for your SS21 collection?

“I wanted to do a presentation in London, but I think that will have to move to next January. It’s quite nice to just roll with what comes your way – it’s totally out of our control, and trying to force through shows and sales just doesn’t really feel right with everything that’s happening in the world at the moment.”

How do you hope the fashion industry changes in a post-Covid world?

“I think we need a reckoning, a complete shake-up of power structures. I say this in my teaching all the time, but I hate hierarchies and believe that, in a student-teacher relationship, we should be learning and finding something out together. I think young, progressive people now have the power to speak up and be heard, to question the power structures that exist within the fashion system. ‘Because that’s the way it’s always been’ is no longer an acceptable argument.

“But also, from a sustainability angle, I think we have the ability now to really think about all of our choices, about whether we need to fly to factories, or shows, and so on. Working online and from home has been so successful that it could revolutionise waste in our industry if we embed it into our practices.”

What’s the best thing about being a designer in London?

“The pressure.”

What’s the worst?

“The pressure.”

Top image by Anna Stokland. Taken from Issue 52 of 10 Men – COMMUNITY, BELONGING, UPLIFTING – available to purchase here.