John Bartlett’s Return To Womenswear
John Bartlett has spent years steadfastly, studiously making clothes for regular-size guys. His masculine, finely tailored suits and classic sportswear separates have always been pegged to thick-trunked, made-in-the-U.S.A. Joes, not the whippet-thin Matveys or Jakobs of the world. Bartlett’s not above a flight of fancy now and again—a djellaba thrown in for good measure—but it’s the standards that are the designer’s meat and potatoes. And they’re cut and sewn for men with an appetite for both.
For Fall, the menswear stays that course, this time with a seventies Euro vibe Bartlett says was inspired by D. H. Lawrence. When it works, it feels gentlemanly and aristocratic; when it doesn’t, as with some strange buttoned britches, it feels a little German backpacker. And for womenswear, an arena to which Bartlett is returning for the first time in years, the look was…well, much the same. The styles borrow heavily from the guys’, and some of Bartlett’s chosen silhouettes even look better on the ladies than the gents. Snug blazers and vests, thick woolen pants—they’re not glamorous, per se, but you could see a gal wearing them. And you wanted to applaud when Bartlett sent out female counterparts to his bigger, brawnier men: It’s a good thing to remember at a fashion show that there are women older than 17, waist sizes thicker than 23 inches. The return of the nineties CK star Jenny Shimizu was an especially nice touch. Very likely, these fuller-figured ladies are Bartlett’s customers-to-be, and they should find much to suit them among his belted blazers and color-blocked knits. But tread carefully. There are shapes more flattering to the young, and despite the old saying, where leather pants are concerned, it’s beauty before age.