Menswear tour de force James Long is confirming his female pulling power by producing his first women’s-only collection for A/W 11.
Ever since his highly acclaimed menswear debut in 2007, fashion-forward females have been snuggling up in James Long’s trademark knitwear and slipping into his beautifully detailed biker jackets. This unisex attraction, according to Long, is perfectly simple: “I think women like wearing men’s clothes. That’s all.” In the last four years Long has worked with everything from cowhide skin to rabbit hair, and is best known for his dip-dyed, eye-catching knitwear and paint-splattered leatherwork. With an innovative aesthetic that carries a romantic, rebellious edge and strong eye for detail, it’s no surprise that Long’s collections have defied fashion gender rules and attracted a large boy and girl following.
So now it’s only natural, after encouraging words from such formidable supporters as Anna Wintour and Sarah Mower, that Long has decided to launch his first womenswear collection, due to be unveiled during London Fashion Week this month. The designer will be showing with talent-finding initiative Fashion East as part of their ever-eagerly anticipated show. “She bullied me to do it”, says Long of his collaboration with FE founder and close friend Lulu Kennedy, an alliance that goes way back to when she first added him to her prestigious MAN line up in 2007. “I think Lulu does the best things for fashion in London. I love working with her.”
Of the collection Long is straight to the point, explaining “It’s just my look, but on girls”. Although sticking to his signature style, the collection will carry a unique feminine twist combining a gypsy and grunge look where gowns are styled with tassled knits and plenty of layers. While he counts Stevie Nicks, Patti Smith and Nancy Spungen as influences, it’s his sister and Lulu who are the real muses; the ones who have always worn his clothes and promoted their unisex appeal. So is his womenswear set to be a permanent fixture on the fashion week schedule? Long shrugs, “I just get on with it.”
James Long’s womenswear debut with Fashion East will take place on 22nd February at the Topshop Show Space. His solo A/W 11 menswear show is on 23rd February at Somerset House.