Neil Barrett is resolute in the amalgamation of his collections for men and women. That much was crystal clear this season, when he showed menswear and Resort within days of each other. The technical theme for both was bonded fabrics, and the dominant visual motif was an exploded lumberjack check in classic black and red, or black and white. In a way, it was creative pragmatism—Barrett is very specific about his fabrics, and the bigger the fabric order he can place, the better chance there is that Italy's legendary mills will be able to satisfy his specificity.
Of course, there's more to it than that. Barrett's incredible technical precision and his own natural affection for androgyny mean that the collections shared a rigor and a purity bordering on severity, which were amplified by the styling for his Resort lookbook. A striped tee, Bermudas, black shoes, and socks—nothing about that outfit said "girl." A bonded leather tee and vertically striped trousers? Same thing, although he had very considerately given the pants an elasticized waistband so they were "supereasy for my woman to get into."
And yet here was Barrett describing his Resort line as "more girly than my main line." Perhaps the purely feminine as it plays out for Barrett really did mean a cape-back leather coat-dress bonded with jersey, or a skirt in navy crepe with a leather panel to keep it flat in front ("I don't like creases," declared the designer). The minimalism of a bonded top matched to a skirt in a corded fabric was almost intimidatingly strict. But the cumulative impact of the collection was curiously sensual. Maybe it was in the movement of the clothes, the diagonal swoop of a T-shirt dress, the swing of those cape-backs. If there is a lot of tension in Barrett's clothes, there is also release. Or it could be that Barrett's absolute conviction was, in the end, as seductive as the flash of lustrous red pony trimmed into a printed check miniskirt.
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