Charles Jeffrey Loverboy: Ready-to-wear AW21
If Charles Jeffrey’s last collection was about optimism and trying to be positive, his AW21 offering is about the pandemic hitting home. “I wanted to communicate the darkness we are all feeling,” he said. He’d done research into Dr Seuss’s midnight paintings – “which are in stark contrast to the optimistic stories he’s famous for” said the designer who’d also developed a David Lynch obsession and become fascinated by Louis Bourgeois works in fabric.
That coupled with the groundhog grind of lockdown, led him to explore the more anxious and troubling corners of the psyche and showcase a sense of vulnerability alongside his signature proud defiance. He usually takes prints and knit patterns from his own vivid paintings, but this time, stills from a teaser film by Thurston Redding film featuring the dancer Kate Coin, were printed onto the outerwear silks and shirts.
For AW21, his Loverboy tartan was pushed to the extremes of durability with a PU coating, giving it a leather-like appearance. Then it was pushed to extremes of fragility with threads dissolved into a fine fringe. “Fabric and texture carry identity,” says the designer, pointing out that fabrics can be patched. He tied that in with the idea of “repairing broken emotions,” which was at the forefront of his mind as we exit lockdown.
His knits are always a strong point. Layered up, lavished with loose threads and inside out textures – the chaotic energy of his surfaces are distinctive and hugely appealing. They’ve powered his brand to 50 stockists worldwide. He’s come so far in just six years, but is already laying down his strategy for the future. The time is right to do so.
His brand was born in the Dalston club Vogue Fabrics, but clubs have been closed for over a year now. A typical lockdown Friday or Saturday night for the designer is spent sitting at home with his boyfriend and playing with make-up. “I keep thinking about how healing it is to be in a room full of people all dancing to one song,” he says. Just as clubs like Vogue Fabrics perform a vital social function, by making space for people in the queer community, so Jeffrey wants his brand to be about building a space and lifting people up. Loverboy in the 2020s will be a Warholian hotbed, built on collaboration and a sense of family, with artists in residence and its own sense of community. Out of the darkness, into the light.
Photography courtesy of Charles Jeffrey Loverboy.