Heritage counts in large amounts for David Neville and Marcus Wainwright. Their new men's collection for Rag & Bone was a veritable orgy of sartorial iconography—from the well-worn (the biker jacket, the varsity jacket) to the less so (the skiing suit, the Lee Rider blanket check). But the ruling icon was the Duke of Windsor. Photographs from the massive catalog for the Sotheby's auction in 1997 of the Duke and his Duchess' possessions helped shape Neville and Wainwright's latest designs. They were particularly inspired by the way the Duke mixed traditions—military, Scottish, hunting, shooting, fishing. And because he was always considered quite a daring dresser, his influence meant there was more of a fashion dandy quotient than usual in the Rag & Bone collection. It was clear from the outset—a red tartan suit over a herringbone waistcoat and checked shirt. That outfit was followed by a quilted shirt jacket in the same herringbone paired with red tartan plus fours, then an ivory tartan jacket with matching kilt and leggings, with each and every look anchored by a gentlemanly cravat and often topped by a droog-y bowler hat. Even though Jon Hamm was backstage saying he'd work a kilt, no problem, we were clearly a long way from Rag & Bone's roots in blue-collar Americana.
Artful layering has become a signature of this label (stylist Vanessa Reid has done an excellent job at elaborating on the R&B vision), so there was no sense of bulk in the multiple jacket-on-waistcoat-on-shirt-on-shirt combinations, except when a cropped cable knit was added. There may have been a lot going on, but it was kept easy, almost casual. A softer shoulder and longer silhouette definitely helped. So did the innate sportiness that came from the subtle biker and skiwear touches, like the articulated navy sweater which gave the blanket-check-and-suede kilt it was paired with a real kick. Which suggested that the best approach to the collection might be a skillful dissection, to pare away the more indulgent Windsor-isms and focus on those pieces with appeal for a more contemporary snappy dresser: a cowhide duffel, say, or a fur-trimmed hoodie in an oatmeal knit.