Perhaps with the intention to demonstrate his commitment to the world of high fashion while espousing alternative sartorial environments, designer Alex Mattsson opted for unveiling his Spring/Summer 2014 menswear collection the day before the fashion showcase London Collections: Men officially opened to journalists and buyers. In the dark underground space of the London Film Museum in Covent Garden, the presentation of the collection featured a performance by rapper Brooke Candy, whose irreverent and highly sexualised approach to performance made her a perfect match to Mattsson’s urban designs.
Entitled ‘Pineal Dawn’, the collection was inspired by a vision of a future world where militant Rastafarians fight for their spiritual ideals to make society better. To translate this concept, Mattsson conceived garments that evoked the military realm (namely in the form of attractive tropical camouflage prints in bomber jackets and biker coats) fused with the urban appropriation of sportswear in details such as mesh panels, gold metallic fabrics, oversized garments and sports shorts and vests. In many respects, the collection continues to reinterpret core conceptual principles that Mattsson has regularly explored throughout his short career.
From an early age, Alex Mattsson showed signs of wanting to combine traditional tailoring with alternative and futuristic sartorial languages. While growing up in Oslo, Norway, he embraced the local subcultures created by skaters and snowboarders while also enjoying the fantastical worlds narrated in science fiction literature and film. After doing a period of work placement when he was 18 at the costume department of the Drottningholms Royal Theatre, Mattsson developed an interest in fashion and decided to move to the UK to study it. In 2007, he graduated from the BA course in Fashion Design at the University for the Creative Arts, Rochester, and went on to complete an MA in Menswear Fashion from London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) in 2009. His irreverent graduation collection fro the RCA dissected the rebellious existence of ‘The Sixth Sun’ gang members who, amidst a future Los Angeles that degenerates into high-tech tribal gang warfare, embrace their Mayan ancestors’ spiritual beliefs and particularly the prediction that the world would end in 2012.
Owing to the way in which he mastered the traditional languages of menswear and tailoring while pushing their boundaries in order to incorporate a lexicon of street culture, Mattsson’s designs have become much admired by young consumers in urban metropolises. As such, it isn’t a coincidence that his designs are stocked in retailers in Tokyo, Los Angeles and Singapore, cities where a looming feeling of social apocalypse drives fashion and taste. It is undeniable that, in their isolation from the inner circle of British men’s fashion critics and buyers, Alex Mattsson’s creations are able to question the spiritual future of menswear. Whether they will succeed in shifting the paradigm of London’s sartorial realm and become desired and accepted goods for men, remains a bigger challenge.