January 18, 2011
The staging for Roland Mouret's presentation tonight surrounded the models with walls of mirrors. In late-forties film noir (Orson Welles' The Lady From Shanghai, most famously), that was a staple maximum-drama-from-minimum-budget effect, a means to convey a character's identity crisis, perhaps. There is no worry of such a crisis with Mouret—he is nothing if not clear about the message he wants to convey with his menswear. The late-forties echo wasn't off the mark, though. The designer himself has the broad-shouldered build and confident masculinity of men in that era (at least as we see them on-screen), and that was the quality that came through in a wardrobe that suggested men recently demobilized from the military (another staple of film noir). The palette was gray, khaki, and army brown; the main fabric was a sturdy cotton drill. Jackets were square-shouldered, trousers pleated, tapered, and cuffed. (Put those things together and you've got something pretty true to the spirit of a classic demob suit.) One key accessory was the huge silk scarf printed with an old Japanese military map, a soldier's souvenir. Silk-mix ties were woven from the linings of old uniforms. And the shoes (which will be available only at 8 Carlos Place, the superstore that Mouret is opening in London in February) were modeled on a last from the 1930's.
But the web of references to the past scarcely compromised the contemporary appeal of these clothes. Mouret came up with the best-ever alternative to animal skins in a chocolaty jacket made of cotton baked with mud, a vintage Chinese textile process that yields a fabric with the look and feel of leather. A khaki cotton drill blouson and matching pants had a casual precision that was almost elegant. In fact, elegance applied to a lot of the items—a peacoat, a trench, a mink-collared moleskin Crombie—with their actual workings (i.e., the small details like closings) streamlined out of sight. Mouret is a former dancer and model—he has a professional awareness of how to move in clothes, how to flatter the body in movement. Plus, he worked on the collection with stylist David Bradshaw, a man who knows his way around a silhouette. However the stars aligned, the result was the most convincing expression yet of Mouret's Mr.