Lou Dalton's peers could envy her upbringing. She has mined her country roots for material season in and season out: Last Spring, adapting the RAF uniforms she spotted as a child at a nearby base; this Fall, updating the garb she saw on the hired hands on her family farm. Dalton's aesthetic is never far from workmanlike, so inspiration and execution dovetailed nicely. From the opening look—a suit of sorts, with matching wide-wale cord overshirt and oversize, cuffed trousers—the collection had the rode-hard-and-put-away look of real muck-about clothes. (What passed for a three-piece suit, somewhat truer to the name, were matching track pants, a blazer, and a zip-up shirt in houndstooth wool, suggesting a farm lad's idea of sophistication, with a chavvy edge that was a world away from Savile Row. The effect was oddly charming.) Heavy denim was bleached to the edge of blankness and shown with reversed Fair Isle sweaters and Western jackets. So far, so cowshed. But Dalton stressed that this wasn't historical re-creation. "I don't want it to be too heritage," she said, a salient point in a London that's at least half obsessed with its archives. (The other half, it seems, is fixated on obliterating any connection to them.) So she did one of those denim looks in baby-doll pink, and worked with the traditional English shoemaker Grenson on thick-soled lace-up boots nicer than those you'd find in the stables.
Though arguably distilled with a slightly too laserlike focus, the collection suggested a profitable way to both embrace and update history. It was, Dalton said backstage after the show, deeply personal. "My uncle gave up grammar school to work my grandmother's farm," she explained. But to her credit, these clothes wouldn't seem to require that level of commitment.