Last Fall, he was capturing the Bauhaus, but for Spring, Neil Barrett
conjured up a lighter, friendlier modernism. He expressed a sympathy with the fifties California minimalism of people like Charles and Ray Eames, whose bubbled, organic shapes Barrett reproduced on jackets and tops. Those swooping circles were minimalism with the sharp edges sheared off, which would serve just as well as a tag for the entire collection: If it was hard or sharp, it went. Look through the entire lineup and you'd spot not a single fastening or snap: Jackets held together magnetically; many of the foamy, cotton-jersey shorts were elasticized; pants were tapered with covered scuba zips; and shirts buttoned to the top with a hidden closure. Those were the rare ones that even had
collars. For the most part, Barrett had dispensed with them as a mere formality and inconvenience. "I don't like having anything around my neck in the summer," he said.
The collection split the difference between casual and precise—right down to the models' spackled hair. "It's the whole idea of taking what's super-easy, super-wearable—American street wear—and making it superfine," Barrett said. "Everything's about paring it back, making it super-minimal." The printed and woven patterns, macro and mega-macro versions of lumberjack plaids in black and white and red, represented the maximal road less taken. ("Maximal" must be the word for what Barrett was calling "men's bouclé.") They had a graphic appeal, but on the whole, less was more. The simple, techy shorts, trousers, jackets, and lab coats in their stony palette harked back to the best of what Barrett does best.