"Behind every great man is a woman," goes the old adage. Such was the case in Billy Reid
's Fall '13 collection. In seasons past, Reid has put his menswear first. "It just needs to be ready earlier for the market," explained the Alabama-based designer backstage before his show. This season, however, Reid made a concerted effort to design for both sexes simultaneously. And the result, he admitted, was that his womenswear ended up having a firm influence on his Fall man's aesthetic. "It made him relax a little bit," said Reid, noting that his goal was to strike a cool, contemporary balance between elegance and rusticity. For the boys, he achieved just that, with an offering inspired by rich variations of wood. (In case one didn't get that from the palette of warm browns, forest greens, aubergines, and deep wines, the point was reinforced with his set, a giant wall of grainy wooden planks.) The collection included smart tweed and plaid trousers; chunky, broken-chevron-print cable knits; and dapper wool overcoats. The dress shirt was eliminated altogether. Instead, dinner jackets—one of which was shown in a woven cashmere—and velvet suits were paired with mock turtlenecks, plaid sports shirts, or striped cashmere cotton tees (their lines were taken from the rings on tree stumps). A bomber made from fermented leather was just the right amount of rugged. Overall, the line presented a breed of polished-casual clothes that, as Reid put it, were "realistic" and even effortless.
However, while Reid's womenswear-inspired menswear was successful, the actual womenswear was less so. In his largest women's offering to date (18 looks, to be exact), Reid turned out three-quarter-length skirts and dresses that—while sometimes nipped with thick leather belts—lacked shape. A Cherokee rose-print shirt-gown, as well as a gown shown in gray plaid, had a seventies feel, and a red crepe wool blazer and skirt combo bordered on marmish. That being said, his black A-line leather skirt will be an urban staple and the bonded cashmere neoprene coats for both him and her boasted a cool, sculpted sophistication that hit the mark.