June 15, 2014 London
Dalton emphasized her background in tailoring with sharp trousers and suit jackets in pink jacquard, but added references to motorcycle gear, seen on pieces like a coral-red top with heat-sealed patches in a pattern borrowed from the biker world. The collection was very clearly articulated—missing a bit of adventure, perhaps—but effectively nailing the current mix of sportswear and male tailoring.
While the opening look was an all-white shorts suit (possibly a kind of tabula rasa), a closer peek revealed a camouflage relief, a detail that heralded the collection's obsession with protection and protective gear. The shoes—made in collaboration with Grenson for the second season running—took inspiration from builders' shoes, with heavy, jagged Vibram soles, but they were feminized with lacing from ghillies, a kind of dancing shoe used in Ireland and Scotland.
"I come from a traditional background," Dalton said backstage after the show. "I wanted to hone in on that, but update it. There's a military undertone in the collection, but not in a traditional sense. I wanted it to feel fresh, but still be masculine." In many ways this traditional masculinity is fading away in our modern society (how many farmhands do you know?), and Dalton is a designer who seeks to salvage ideas that are worth preserving, even in a contemporary man's wardrobe. She does this knowing that the first rule of menswear is that God is in the details. A technical gray coat, therefore, came with pockets lifted from a shooting vest and detachable sleeves. A navy honeycomb mesh vest was cut away in the back, and suit jackets were adjustable in the back as well, for a more controlled look. It struck just the right note between commercial and twisted.
Yet all this control at some points made one long for something slightly wilder. The "distorted petals" of the knitwear added that element, providing what Dalton called "a feminine balance" but also a feeling of energy and lust for life. Modern man could do with more of that.