June 17, 2013 London
Such promise held a vision of the night as indolently, erotically spent as a Bryan Ferry lyric. But James came nowhere close. His was a politely patrician collection, from its single-buttoned, long-skirted jackets and white slacks to its seersucker shorts and sailboat-printed shirts. It was breezily light in its construction, pale to the point of neutrality, except when it came alive as the designer surrendered to the colorist inside: the night of a navy suede jacket coming on to the sunset orange of the trousers it was paired with, the pink-to-lilac ombré-ed polo.
What feels like decades ago, James presented a collection at the British Embassy in Paris that was fearlessly, seductively foppish. The Dali-lobster-print shirt lingers in the memory. You can still feel that beast stirring in him—here, there was a sheer, polka-dotted polo and a baby-blue suede blouson. And all the models were wearing espadrilles, some of them extravagantly beaded. This week, there have been echoes of that indolence in the collections of much younger London hotshots, which sets James up as something of a silver daddy for the scene. Maybe if he owned the role, it would help him to loosen up.