Brazil, By Way Of Britain
Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane’s new jobs sparked a flurry of conjecture about the impact on women’s fashion of designers who’d made their rep in menswear. And it’s not likely to die down any time soon because there are plenty more men’s designers waiting to cross over. Like Alexander Lewis, who trained as a pattern cutter on Savile Row (he worked at E. Tautz before going solo) but has chosen to launch his own business with a Resort collection for women. His name scarcely broadcasts Brazil, but that is, in fact, his family background, and his first collection is inspired by his girlfriends who may live in London or New York but who maintain a Brazilian nonchalance about the way they dress. “They mix the city, the beach and something from their boyfriends,” Lewis explains. That might mean a skirt with shirt-tails, or a swingy little crochet top that could go with shorts or a bikini, or an item Lewis calls a beach coat (though it’s a little luxe to expose to sand and salt water). Brazil makes its presence felt in some of the designer’s techniques, particularly that crochet, and a silk woven inspired by the way that straw is woven in Brazilian furniture. But there’s nothing geographical about Lewis’s pragmatism. “I know exactly what I wanted to do,” he says. “I decided to focus on pre-collections for the first few seasons, because they’re a little more commercial, and I don’t have to do a show. And also, I see what I do as situational, rather than seasonal.” The situation being, in his case, both his family’s beach house in Bahia, and his own stomping ground in London. Bold to try and bring the two together.