The new menswear line Conference of Birds takes flight. By Gabriel Bell and Johnathan Lawhorne
Helmed by British stylist-cum-designer Andrew Holden, the young menswear label Conference of Birds represents a clever marriage of unlikely mates. A chic sartorial bricolage joining the hard-edged quality of American workwear with the polish of British tailoring, Holden's garments also recall rugged hunting pieces as much as they do trim cosmopolitan uniforms.
For Holden's debut collection of 32 sharp looks at Manhattan's Pier 92 this last January, herringbone patterns and European-inflected Merino wool sweaters took their place alongside more provincial knits and plaids. Conference of Birds, however, never descended into backwoods hokum or blue-collar slack (indeed, the pants were razor thin). With Holden's mix of strikingly modern shapes, shawl collars, and subtle leather embellishments, the line seemed more at home in the urban landscape than less genteel country environment that gave it its color and texture. With the best of American flavor and the intelligence of European structure, one could call the collection the best of both worlds (you, know…if one was partial to cliché).
It's a return to form, if you will, for Holden who had theatrical pursuits in mind before moving to fashion. "I'm a stylist," he says, "but it's been predominately women's wear. This collection came more out of a creative impulse—I'd always wanted to get back into menswear as my training was in costume and scenic design. Somehow, I feel I've come full circle here."
As one of four budding designers selected to present a collection during the weeklong menswear prequel to New York Fashion Week this past season, Holden has been generating much-deserved industry buzz. The blogs are swooning over his corduroy waistcoasts and colorful bowties. Only months after his runway debut, Holden's name creeping his way onto the It list that includes notables like Tim Hamilton and Adam Kimmel. It seems birds of a feather really do flock together.
Photography by Ryan Michael Kelly. Model: Shaun Haugh
The new menswear line Conference of Birds takes flight.