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In the spotlight: designer John Lancaster of JLSA
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JLSA AW1314 BLT SUIT 2
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John Lancaster
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JLSA suit
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JLSA women
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JLSA tweed cape women
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John Lancaster JLSA
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JLSA AW1314 Blazer
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JLSA AW1314 Alpaca

An intimate catwalk show in an exclusive private members’ club one chilly evening was the perfect introduction to one of London’s newest and most promising designer labels. JLSA, or the John Lancaster Style Agency if you fancy the full version, is the creation of one John Lancaster, and the culmination of his extensive experience in the fashion industry. We met with the man behind the name – and immaculately kempt beard – to hear his story and find out just what the future holds for JLSA.

John Lancaster JLSA

In the beginning

After various forays into the world of music which, rumour has it, at one time or another involved analogue synthesizers – well, it was the 90s – Lancaster turned his attention to the fashion industry; a much more natural fit for his creative ambitions.

Starting out at Hackett before moving to Alfred Dunhill, as the head stylist on London’s celebrity circuit, Lancaster honed his skills at the household name, adopting the philosophy that style is far more than simply a well-fitted suit. In this pursuit, Lancaster spent five years in Mayfair and on Savile Row fine-tuning the tricks of the trade before setting up JLSA as a freelance project in 2011, testing the water and seeing how his own carefully developed ways of styling would be received.

After a successful run styling the wealthy and red carpet clique, including the likes of the hunky Tom Hardy, Lancaster’s attention turned to his ultimate goal of designing his own collection. Speaking of his transition, Lancaster said: “it had been a long time coming, and in hindsight I wish I’d made the decision to put out a full collection a lot sooner.”

Three in one

Having knowledge of every angle of the fashion industry, from concept through to fitting and finishing, is surely Lancaster’s ‘USP’. As he explains: “customised tailoring is all about formulas, technique and finishing on a bang, whereas styling gives you the confidence to mix colours and textures, to be confident and experiment without control.”

John Lancaster

He continues: “as a designer you develop the ability to peek into the future which is mind blowing. You get fixated on a story, which quickly builds into a concept. Sketching a new design or a private commission then seeing the finished article are both seriously satisfying.”

As you might expect, Lancaster confides that he also really loves seeing how other stylists work with JLSA pieces, challenging his own perceptions and enabling him to see his own work from another perspective.

Black London AW1314 

It’s with the confidence of this combined experience behind him that Lancaster unveiled his exclusive debut collection, Black London AW1314, to the eager audience at the socialite favoured 2&8 club in Mayfair earlier this year.

JLSA AW1314 Blazer JLSA AW1314 Alpaca

In Lancaster’s words, Black London is “a thought-provoking collection of independent luxury work wears and nocturnal kit for earnest men to wear on occasion, not demand.” It ranges from luxurious slim-tailored two and three-piece suits which, as Lancaster explained, are made with their own expertly handcrafted material: “we commissioned London’s smallest micro-mill to hand weave a unique black tweed in lambs wool, with a 1mm white 1” pin stripe and red selvedge. Each piece requires an age-old milling and scouring technique to shrink, soften and prepare the tweed for cutting.”

 JLSA AW1314 BLT SUIT 2

You will also find 60s’ fishtail trousers and white day shirts, while evening wear consists of narrow shawl collar black tuxedos featuring iconic British racing green lining, black night shirts with epaulets, and optional round neck waistcoats. Look out for the elaborately tailored knee length cashmere-wool mix topcoats in navy and camel with suede lapels, and black hand-knit Alpaca sweaters.

Consisting of 16 brand new menswear designs in total, Black London appears to be testament to Lancaster’s ability to transcend ‘trend’ while remaining current, appealing and effortlessly chic.

What’s next for JLSA?

For now, Lancaster has his head down and his hands full, not only designing and shooting his S/S ‘14 collection, but also preparing for the launch of his online MonoStore at www.jlsa.co.uk this coming July, and the release of a new formal capsule collection for women – featuring an eel skin micro-dress, tweed tailored pencil skirts and crop blazers.

JLSA women

He’s also continuing to work on private commissions, and relocating to a bigger design studio.

Everything in JLSA’s Black London AW1314 collection is ready to wear or made-to-order with further styling options also available. For a private appointment or information on male and female commissions by JLSA, email Lancaster directly. You can also stay up-to-date with JLSA happenings on twitter at @JLSAIcons.

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