In his first collection since he was named creative director of the
American accessories label Ghurka, John Bartlett went back to his roots, or what he calls "my big bear heart." His show played out like a gathering of Iron Johns, celebrating their
manhood in the woods. Bearded, balding, uncompromisingly butch, they
strolled a wood-chip boardwalk in duck boots, with sturdy styling
to match. A cord jean jacket, for example, was sported shirtless by its
Unsurprisingly, it was the outerwear that impressed in this collection,
particularly in a duffel coat or the chunky four-pocketed style that's
known as a mackinaw, or indeed anything else that evoked L.L.Bean. The knit
trim on the pockets of a brown leather blouson or blazer was a nice touch.
But the tailored pieces looked a little lumpen, and the sparkly silver
hunting jacket was just plain weird (loden green and bark brown make more sense
for the Bartlett Man).
But then the designer himself has always been partial to a streak of perverse whimsy. Hence the Gay Men's Chorus harmonizing their way through "It's Now or Never" to open the show. Is that how Bartlett himself feels about his place in the fashion firmament?