Letters from London: The Fall ’13 Men’s Collections, Day One-------
The opening day of London’s menswear shows began by looking into the past. Things kicked off with a celebration of Belstaff’s new collaboration with Goodwood Racing (left). The lower-priced moto-inspired collection will launch with fanfare at Harrods next month. “In the history of British motor sports, Goodwood and Belstaff are almost inseparable,” said creative director Martin Cooper, who was looking forward to spending a day or two at the estate of his cohost, the Earl of March, racing’s unofficial peer. Featuring Lord March’s family tartan on waxed jackets and hidden inside linings, the new collection was worn by models perched on vintage bikes outside the members club where the presentation was held. The bikes belonged to Sammy Miller, Britain’s former number-one trials rider (now an avid collector). Not far away, Bally was celebrating history, too: its place as the boot supplier to Tenzing Norgay’s 1953 Everest expedition. A replica pair of the boots Norgay wore was displayed, but the new Everest collection was lighter and more city-friendly (case in point: the seamless, waterproof “double” hiking boot co-designer Graeme Fidler was enthusing over). Bally showed deerskin bags, too. They came in the form of expeditioner backpacks, but also, for the nonclimbers, as a weekender.
But it was the future that was on view at Fashion East, the clutch of up-and-comers installed at Carlton Gardens, Meadham Kirchhoff among them. Bobby Abley had rigged up a UFO craft with a spaceman model inside. More of this earth was Kit Neale’s greasy-spoon setup, with models lingering over plates of chips (left). Neale is a print-meister, preferring psychedelic patterns in brash colors, but this season he moved away from the digital prints he’s favored in the past and back toward more traditional screen-printing. Those played nicely off the hand-done Dalmatian dots of Joseph Turvey’s collection (shown alongside mewling pups), which had a graphic punchiness in black and white. Maarten van der Horst and Nasir Mazhar rounded out the lot.
If London needed a representative for the present between past and future, you could say Hunter Gather (left) took that spot. The brainchild of famed stylist and brand consultant David Bradshaw (his handiwork has shaped Versace, Jil Sander, and more), the new contemporary label and shop on Wigmore Street celebrated its official debut. There were great colorful knits (in raspberry and mustard), tailoring, and even shearling jackets. The easy-to-swallow pricing felt right for the here and now, as did the emphasis on sourcing insight from the crowd—from collaborators to the design team to friends Bradshaw’s made over the course of his career. “I’m the creative director,” Bradshaw said with a hint of modesty. “The ideas come from the collective.” And, he added in a bit of 2013 wisdom, the store is great, but “it’s all about the Web site.”