As of January 2012, Nicole Farhi
had a new owner; as of September, a new creative director, too: Joanna Sykes, late of Aquascutum. Menswear was the first task Sykes set herself to when she took over, and the first she's shown to the public. She's made some changes—moving all production back to Italy key among them—and is starting small: a capsule collection, she called it at a presentation this morning. It modestly took up only a few racks in the label's Conduit Street space. Farhi had been on the runway in Milan, but that's "like running before you're delivering good, beautiful product," Sykes said. And such product was her goal. She drew upon her history in fashion and long connections to producers to find better factories—the sort, she confided, who knit for Chanel, Balenciaga, and Louis Vuitton. ("He does not need the work," she added, as her knitwear purveyor, who'd flown the samples over from Italy himself the night before, delivered a kiss on the cheek.) Those knits were high points of the soft, understated collection, which also featured plenty of the jersey tailoring for which Farhi herself was known. Menswear seems to suit Sykes' pared-down preferences, and she promised more of the same as she grows into her new role—in womenswear as well as in men's. "It's my thing anyway. I'm not into frills and bows. I'm quite a men's-y designer for women. A lot of our women's tailoring will be made in men's factories."