A tray of whiskey sours at 9am? Must be time for Tom Ford (for the record, I asked for a cup of tea). Still, on the final day of the London collections, sometimes things did feel a little tipsy.
Ford has his own way with showing his clothes: a few people at a time are invited to hear him talk through his collection, the models summoned by the buzzer in his pocket. It’s all purposefully informal. “You’re doing your model runway walk,” Ford said to one of his boys, whose pout was trying to give unspecified intent, “you can smile.”
Ford has built a broad menswear business with garments that stay the same pretty much year in, year out. Each season he adds some novelty, which for autumn/winter ’13 is a slimmer suit silhouette, like the one he cut for Daniel Craig as 007 in Skyfall. Here the oversized windowpane check cloths were more flamboyant than anything Bond would wear, the trousers slightly shortened, to show Ford’s chosen styling touch: a pale sock. The tailoring was as sharp as always, but of more interest were the casual pieces.
Particularly impressive were neat cropped peacoats with cleverly odd proportions. All his plaids are blown up, so even though the coat is brief, it still feels made on a manly scale. Product lined the shelves all around, and drawing the eye were piles of fluffy bouclé jumpers in shades from raspberry to grass green. Ford’s personal favourites? Fur yeti boots, as seen on one model. “I actually wear these at home in Santa Fe,” the designer said. No one flinched.
London’s got a wild one on its hands with JW Anderson. His show notes promised . . . wait for it . . . “an examination of bourgeois kinkiness and boudoir perversity”. What this meant was boys, and I mean boys, mostly in frilled stiff cloth teeny shorts matched with various tops – most often a pocketed bandeau. Dotted through were some po-faced dresses.
Anderson is clearly on a mission to shock. That’s his prerogative. What would serve him better, however, would be to pay more attention to the actual cut of the clothes. For a collection claiming to be obsessed with the anatomy, the empty crotches and flat behinds of the trousers showed little interest had been paid to enhancing the realities of the body itself.
E.Tautz, on the other hand, is all about the cut. It should be, seeing as it’s the off-the-peg line from Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons. While there are some suits on its catwalk, its mainstay is off-duty pieces which still have an elevated air. This collection played with tweeds and plaids, supersizing them even bigger than those at Tom Ford. Best was a coat made of a tweed extraction that had grids of dots, though it was even more pleasing to read the shownotes and see that the tweed is named “Space Invader”. Retro arcade games influencing traditional cloths: very London.
One final new name before we leave London for the fledgling-free zones of Milan and Paris, where there’s no sign on the schedule of fresh designers: Shaun Samson. He made his debut on the schedule after three seasons as part of Lulu Kennedy’s MAN incubation scheme, and he more than proved his worth. He’s now part of another support initiative called NewGen, which gives him a possible five more seasons to develop his business.
Shaun already has his keen supporters (including young New York rappers like A$AP Rocky) who love to wear his clever punch-stitched swaggering baseball tops and skater shorts. Of note here was a holographic padded jacket. The department store buyers sat opposite me looked a bit bemused. Or like they needed a drink. I expect they’ll come around in time.
For the final analysis of all the London collections, see the Life & Arts section in the weekend edition of the Financial Times. Daily reports from Italy begin on Friday at www.ft.com/fashionweek