Winter Dandy

A Child of the Jago offers a winter alternative for all those men who are a little tired of the ubiquitous dark palette of most other seasonal offerings. It also offers a little more theatricality than one is able to find in many other collections. But that’s hardly surprising since A Child of the Jago – with AW10 being only its second collection – is the brainchild of Joe Corre and Simon Armitage.

Being the progeny of celebrity parents ( Joe is the son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren) is a mixed blessing. Sure, it’s easy to get all the celebrity guests for the front row of even seminal shows, but on the other hand, one always has to deal with endless comparisons to one’s salubrious parents and the public, being the great heaving unwieldy mass that it is, is not always apt to offer favourable comparisons.

Fortunately for A Child of the Jago, it’s hardly the first time that Joe Corre has had to run that particular gauntlet. Having undoubtedly earned his fashion stripes with the hugely successful Agent Provocateur, he has been free to get on with creating his particular vision for the phenomenon that is A Child of the Jago in London’s Shoreditch. Maybe it’s the prior experience of having publicly held up his talent to scrutiny and dealt with the inevitable variety of reactions that makes A Child of the Jago exactly how it is.

For one thing, rather than avoiding certain tendencies, intentionally heading in the opposite direction, as the kids of the famous so often do, there are undoubtedly similarities in the spirit of A Child of the Jago and those of his mother’s legendary maison or his father’s particular styling vision. The political position is there, as is an aesthetic that draws on the rich inspiration of street style as much as historic costume. And yet, together with Simon Armitage, he has created a collection that is most certainly distinct. Perhaps the best was to conceptualise the similarities that exist between Joe Corre’s new venture and the achievements of his parents is as a healthy form of family tradition; heritage given its proper place.

The AW10, called Monkeyrama, takes its name from the motif of the monkeys that appear in Thomas Landseer’s nineteenth century drawings of monkeys dressed as gentlemen that appear in various forms in the collection. In many ways, this is also the most conceptually tight collection of A Child of the Jago to date. Whilst the previous offerings were large on declaring their affinities to certain political causes and an anarchistic sensibility for which his family members are also known, this collection engages even more directly with the philosophy bound up in its name.

A Child of the Jago, is the also the title of Arthur Morrison’s book published in the early years of the twentieth century, set in the slums of London in the 1880’s. The infamous slum of the same name was roughly near to where the falgship store is located in Shoreditch. In much the same way that Morrison’s book intrinsically highlights the shocking inequalities and social conditions within Victorian society, simultaneously operating as philanthropic critique and, to some extent, voyeuristic titillation for the middle classes, so too does A Child of the Jago work from a position in which history is used to make strong statements about contemporary British society.

Using clothing codes taken from historical source books alongside antique pieces and the flair of underground resistance, A Child of the Jago reworks these heavily coded fashion vernaculars to new and interesting ends. As much about the language of fashion itself –cut, form, styling- as about the social factors driving fashion, A Child of the Jago offers a witty and gestural option for the body. It’s all about style as part of a bigger social picture. After all, as any serious fashion historian will tell you, the clothing of the Victorian dandies (referenced by many of the pieces in this collection) was a means of subverting the class system whilst seemingly complying with its dress codes on a superficial level.


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