The Southern gent lives in history as the sharpest-dressed man of all. Billy Reid
acquired his appreciation for this dapper archetype during his time spent servicing the elderly made-to-measure clients at Saks Fifth Avenue in Dallas, and he continues to elevate the tradition in his own collections. This season, he eased up on the silhouette but held tight to construction with classic details like the full canvas lining, hand-set sleeves, rope shoulder, double pleats…and he sure loves a double-breasted jacket.
It was an interesting exercise when applied to Reid's fabrics, all so lightweight that even the skins could be sewn on the same machines as the silk and linen. Some of his generously cut pants were positively sheer. But maybe it was the gentlemanliness (he called the stripe in a linen blazer a "parlor stripe") that dogged Reid's clothes with a weird old-fashioned quality. And that's "old-fashioned" as in 1980s, an era when the likes of Jhane Barnes and Byblos were designing complex, richly textured but overly contrived clothes for men. Here, there was even a linen-silk dinner jacket in a particular shade of bitter chocolate that harked back to those times.
Anyway, there are other reasons to appreciate what Reid does. It's all in the family history. His granddaddy never wore anything but jumpsuits, except he'd change for church. It's charming to think of a baby Billy rebelling against such casualness. Autobio detail number two: The pelican, the state bird of Louisiana, where Reid was born, haunted this collection in the form of a jacquard lining, an embroidery on a pair of shorts, the motif on a hand-knit sweater, and a batiklike print. There was something so compulsive about this idea that Reid had us at…er…pelican.