June 27, 2005
The fix is inthe big story for spring 2006 in Milan is shorts, which is a blessing for a designer as naturally inclined to shrunken proportions as Neil Barrett. Sure enough, his show resolutely bared the leg (complete with shoes worn sockless, of course). But the dominant theme of Barrett's latest collection was a commingling of formal and casual dressing. This meant a sight as discombobulating as a cropped evening jacket over a pair of tuxedo-striped shorts, the waist wrapped with a satin cummerbund, the neck collared with a bow tie. The general effect was that of a little boy all dressed up for a gala at the Met (or perhaps Eddie Munster prepped for the prom). Barrett showed some more straightforward variations on the theme, such as a white evening jacket over worn jeans and a denim jacket done right up to a bow-tied neck, but even here the tricksy styling flourishes (trop de bow ties!) detracted from the designer's essential and very real strength, which is a knack for pared-down tailoring. One promising side effect of Barrett's current direction: the womenswear he showed alongside the men's explored the same theme but in a much more successfuland seductiveway.