The rag-and-bone man is rooted deep in England's past, the wanderer who'd collect people's scrap, alongside the tinker who roamed the land mending their pots 'n' pans. There's often a whiff of such folksy heritage in David Neville and Marcus Wainwright's collections, even if it's as mutated as it was in their latest offering, where one image they had in mind was a granddad of the august Guinness clan, propped up in his country pile surrounded by decayed emblems of empire: tapestries, ikat patterns, ravaged paisleys, old India brought home. Wainwright also mentioned There Will Be Blood and True Grit, invoking the notion of frontier men who ate, slept, and died in their tailored clothes.
The worn-out olde-worldiness in all of those ideas is so overpowering that it's to Neville and Wainwright's credit—kudos to the skill of their stylist too—that they managed to spin a contemporary yarn from their source material, helped in no small degree by Thom Yorke's pulsating soundtrack and a filmic backdrop that offered an abstract digital dissection of the Rag & Bone logo. Or maybe the yarn wasn't so much contemporary as it was a romantic take on urban style, incorporating military tradition, workingman's wear, ethnic influences, and hardy frontier clothes into a single multilayered entity. The anchor was spectacular outerwear, from the shearling-collar herringbone coat that opened the show to the sleek melton topcoat that closed it, but the collection's more idiosyncratic charms could be found in the ikat-pattern items and cable knits.
It might seem banal at this point to bring up Neville and Wainwright's status as Englishmen in New York, but the outsider's eye is an invaluable asset in design. The burgeoning magpie splendor of Rag & Bone's men's collections is a testament to that fact. Their womenswear? Another story altogether, for another teller.