It's a significant part of Duckie Brown legend that every collection title references in some way the oeuvre of Barbra Streisand. Though it's been so for more than a decade, the well may be running a little dry on that conceit. Today's presentation was called Duckyl (cf. Yentl), and when the music suddenly stopped partway through the show, it was all but impossible not to shriek, "Papa, I can't hear you." Still, as the Slits so memorably declaimed in the glory days of punk, silence is a rhythm, too. And when the music started up again for the models' final walk-out, it was just as hard to resist the notion that it was all quite deliberate on the part of Steven Cox and Daniel Silver. They're not playing anyone else's game. They'll do anything to make you stop and think about what it is you're looking at. "We're always asking why," said Cox after the show. "Why does a coat have to be on top? Why not put the structure underneath?"
In many other designers' hands, such questions often lead to arbitrary exercises in fashion flimflammery, but Cox's technique is so strong that Duckie Brown has always been able to transmute his most arcane notions into strong—albeit utterly idiosyncratic—revisions of masculinity. Today's collection may have been a career high. One key silhouette was a bomber over an overcoat, compounded by a double pant. Such layering is standard garb for the men who work in London's markets—and God help the individual who impugns their butchness—but Cox turned the long-under-short idea into a meditation on proportion. There were no shirts, just utility-influenced coats made of shirting that sat under shorter outerwear, or an elongated sweatshirt under, say, a denim jacket. And however skewed it all seemed, a fundamental sobriety tied it all together, always with an eye to the classic Harris tweed or camel.
But it wouldn't be Duckie Brown if there wasn't some element that took that sobriety, flipped it on its pointy little head, and fucked with it. In a collection that was strong on items, one of the strongest was a back-buttoning coat (more like a tunic) in a deep violet. It had that bad old Saint Laurent "do me up, baby" frisson. Which was a reminder of how much of their own story Cox and Silver have managed to infuse their work with. If you think you saw a Hudson's Bay blanket in a coat today, you did. And that was Cox tipping his cap to Silver's Canadian roots.
The collection was made with passion—and it showed.