February 25, 2011 11:14 pm

From Savile Row to savvy line-up

 
Models in suits from Dunhill’s autumn/winter 2011 collection

Suits from Dunhill’s autumn/winter 2011 collection

London’s reputation for tailoring houses is well documented, but until recently the city’s men’s shows focused on young talent supported by Topman and Fashion East think-tank MAN, and other small presentations. This season, however, reflected the rich breadth of British men’s wear, from edgy to established.

“There’s a balance now,” said Gordon Richardson, design director at Topman and British Fashion Council men’s wear panel member.

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“It’s about both the new and the grown-up,” said E Tautz designer Patrick Grant. “We have initiatives going for young fashion talent, but then we also have all these great established designers. London was the home of men’s wear up until the 1930s and 1940s. The best men’s wear designers at international brands are British, we have the best fashion school. We should be a force in the men’s wear world.”

Of the tailoring labels, Dunhill, which showed in the capital for the first time, and Hardy Amies were standouts. “It’s all about properly made suits. British elegance is back,” said Jason Beckley, global marketing director at Dunhill, referring to the brand’s 1940s-influenced yet modern line-up, which included navy single-breasted suits, charcoal twill double-breasted topcoats with shearling collars, and blazers worn over cashmere polo necks.

Hardy Amies was another hit with a series of Brideshead Revisited-inspired slim-fit 1920s and 1930s double-breasted suits. E Tautz, current winner of British Menswear Designer of the Year, showed a 1940s-meets-1970s collection featuring warm-toned roll-neck sweaters worn over cashmere trousers and waxed cotton jackets worn over knits with wool trousers. Oliver Spencer’s collection was a celebration of cool modern work wear with seafarer toggle jackets, Breton sweaters and navy plus fours. Mr Start, meanwhile, focused on developing the label’s signature aesthetic: slim-fit, neat, architectural suits.

“It’s East End luxury,” said Philip Start, designer and founder of the label. “I like my suits to be neat, straight and to the point.”

Beyond classic tailoring, 1980s punk and rockabilly was also a theme. JW Anderson’s slick line-up included slim-fit pegged trousers, worn with silk paisley shirts buttoned to the neck, with shrunken white leather jackets (accessorised with punk “brothel-creeper” shoes decorated with horsehair).

Topman Design straddled both punk and early 1950s tailoring with a collection – its best yet – that included tweed double-breasted suits with high-waisted cinched trousers, and shirts and paisley neckerchiefs. Models also wore baggy high-waisted rolled-up jeans held up by studded belts and paired with tartan bomber jackets.

Sportswear from the 1990s also featured strongly among young designers. MAN’s New Power Studio included oversized T-shirts worn with medallions and tracksuit bottoms (along with, bizarrely, a child in a velvet jumpsuit).

Designer Christopher Shannon also showcased models in quilted tracksuit trousers with knit sweaters and Peruvian scarves, while Katy Eary introduced high-top trainers with studded PVC ankle straps and sports jackets with coordinated caps.

It was all a far cry from Savile Row, but then this very eclecticism is what captures the emerging spirit of London’s men’s wear.

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