Clare Waight Keller showed her new collection for Pringle
just across the courtyard from Sarah Burton's McQueen presentation. The young Englishwomen share the same unassuming style, but the boldness of their work hints at swirling depths. They're both fashion tale-spinners, designers whose clothes come trailing intriguing narratives. This season, Waight Keller's country-clothes-gone-city suggested several scenarios. For Swiss artist Walter Pfeiffer, who made a film to accompany the collection, Pringle meant three fresh-faced youths frolicking in the snow. The audience tittered knowingly. The character Waight Keller herself had in mind was an urban gamekeeper. She transformed the working wardrobe of a rural icon into a string of bold fashion statements. The scorn heaped on such an idea by actual country folk would probably be matched only by the derision they direct at urbanites who drive Land Rovers in the city. And God only knows what they'd make of DJ John Gosling's choice of vintage Cure to accompany Waight Keller's clothes. But her re-contextualization yielded piece after piece of sterling city outerwear (it is without a doubt the Season of the Coat in Milan). If the utilitarian patches, the waxed leathers, and the shooting-jacket details made a stab at authenticity, the luxurious hand of the fabrics distanced the gamekeeper's clobber from its origins in the mud and blood of the countryside. And Waight Keller's layering of a diaphanous herringbone veil over cashmere sweaters and cardigans was (literally) sheer fashion magic. The rest of the knitwear wasn't quite so delicate. A long cabled sweater was accessorized with a leather hood; a languidly extended cardigan had an enveloping fur collar. Europe's increasingly vicious winters may have sparked an uptick in male glamour.