February 21, 2012 London
"Savile Row used to be progressive," he said backstage after the presentation. "Those tailors showed the world how to dress and pushed new shapes and silhouettes. We came full stop and ground to a halt. Post-peacock generation it stops, it retreats. Savile Row lost its confidence."
The peacocks he means are the likes of Tommy Nutter, Blades, and Mr. Fish—the latter two technically Row-adjacent, on Burlington Gardens and Clifford Street, respectively, but never mind that—who radically changed menswear's silhouettes in the 1960's and 1970's. And while not festooning his models with kipper ties and cutting gigantic flares like his predecessors, Grant is decidedly taking a new view on shape, pattern, and color for E. Tautz. While nodding to history—particularly in the essential beauty of tried-and-tested materials and techniques—this is essentially about something contemporary in feel.
The big pieces of the collection were literally that: big. They were big in shape, in the form of cavalryman overcoats, with bell arms and roomy shapes useful for sitting on a horse, but also comfortable for the everyday; big in color, too, borrowed from the uniforms of Household Cavalry and Guards. They relied on heavy fabrics, like the cavalry twill, melton, and barathea that are often worn by British troops on parade. And yet each garment was stripped back and delineated in a bold, graphic way, with any extraneous elements removed (apart from the occasional inclusion of a big hat, in the shape of a battered fedora). There was altogether a sense of form, function, and fashion together—and while capitalizing on heritage, this was not a biscuit tin version of it.
"I wanted it to be bold, but I do think going to the extreme on either end of the scale is idiotic," said Grant. "I don't like costume and I don't like all of that faux British nonsense." Which can only prompt that very British response of hear, hear.