The defining element of Neil Barrett's fall collection
was something that looked like the rear section of a
tailcoat attached to a cummerbund. Aside from offering
an effortless way to dress up any old pair of pants,
there was a mildly subversive aspect to this item. It
was like a bespoke version of the "bum-flap" Vivienne
Westwood used to hang off her bondage trousers.
In fact, mild subversion seemed to be a theme of Barrett's collection. His collision of army fatigues and elegant eveningwear sounds arch and contrived on paper, but on the catwalk, it made for a surprisingly compatible and chic effect. Military uniforms are, after all, the root of all men's tailoring, and Barrett has already proved his expertise in that arena, as evidenced here by the superb cut of an epauletted overcoat. His particular conceit this time round meant that a field jacket showed with tails, while an army-brown blazer had lapels trimmed with satin, just like a proper tux. A tie was camouflage-patterned, shirts bore a lieutenant general's three stars, olive-drab trousers were satin-stripedagain, just like a tux.
Antony Price once cooked up this kind of idea for Bryan Ferry in the heyday of Roxy Music, but Barrett aligned himself to the leaner, meaner present with a blast of Franz Ferdinand. The U.K.'s favorite art rockers would surely have been seduced by a streamlined outfit that encompassed shirt, trousers, bow tie, and those omnipresent cummerbund tails, all in a pleasantly sinister black.