What I try to do with my shows is create a moment, create ‘a thing’ – something that people will remember,” says London designer Mr Oliver Spencer of his catwalk productions. His show in January 2014 certainly achieved that, albeit unintentionally, when moments before the models were due to emerge, a heating pipe burst and showered VIP guests on the front row. But after a short delay to mop up and dry off, the show went on.
In January of this year, Mr Spencer, 43, found himself in hot water, again – this time of his own making. He had brought in The Turbans, a travelling band of Bohemian folk musicians, to live soundtrack the show. However, the dress rehearsal was a disaster. “It was mental – they suddenly broke out into a big argument,” says Mr Spencer. “Honestly, I was this close to cancelling them.” He shakes his head. “The Turbans were more stressful and emotionally draining than anything else.”
Since founding the label in 2002, Mr Spencer and stylist Mr William Gilchrist, his long-time friend and collaborator, have honed a contemporary, yet classic aesthetic that reflects modern, multicultural London. For this reason, they deliberately assemble an eclectic catwalk cast, very few of whom are full-time models. “My postman, Mark, has now become one of our regular models,” says Mr Spencer. “My show represents the kind of men I make clothes for. What I’m aiming for is a cross section — different ages, sizes, ethnicities — but all real characters. There’s no point in sending stereotypical models down the runway. They are not my customers.”
Even the returning faces of the brand Mr Greg Payne (who could pass for Mr Johnny Depp) and the salt-and-peppered Mr Dean Webster have day jobs, working for a restaurant and for a denim brand, respectively.
MR PORTER spent a crucial 24 hours with Mr Spencer as he and his team put the finishing flourishes to a collection he describes as “much more tactile, much more luxurious, much cleaner and a bit more grown up”. Meet him, his team and his travelling band in our film above, and shop the looks straight from the show in our edit below.
Via Mr Porter
This year sees our biggest collection of Oliver Spencer to date. The current collection combines modern fits with old style construction, with personality in every piece. It’s a brand that has become a staple to many a wardrobe. Come by to check it out.