4 posts tagged "Dunhill"
After cramming a city’s worth of menswear offerings into a single MAN Day for the last few seasons, London is planning to give its standout men’s offerings a bit more room to breathe. The first men’s-only London fashion collections (technically three days, rather than a few weeks) will take place June 15 to 17, with opening programs including a launch event hosted by Prince Charles. In addition to the young London designers who have been showing on MAN DAY—like J.W. Anderson, James Long, Topman, Lou Dalton, and Christopher Shannon—the new opportunity has lured several U.K. brands back to their home turf, including Pringle of Scotland and Nicole Farhi, who have been showing in Milan, and Dunhill. E. Tautz, Hardy Amies, and Richard James will show ready-to-wear collections on Savile Row, and Richard Nicoll (pictured) will debut a menswear collection. The full schedule is now available at www.londoncollections.co.uk.
Try to imagine the owner of an esteemed Savile Row shop being told about this newfangled thing called London fashion week. Can’t you just see him, the posh old bloke, sitting there at the dinner table and pray-telling some junior interlocutor to explain himself the way Maggie Smith’s Countess Dowager did on Downton Abbey: “What is a wee-kend?”
Well, there’s no such sniffy skepticism at Gieves & Hawkes—the centuries-old tailors were the storied street’s only representative at LFW this year. But then, they’ve got reason to show their stuff. Design director Barry Tulip, who joined the company last spring after stints with Zegna and Dunhill, has plugged G&H into the fashion world with a Fall ready-to-wear collection that brings a hint of designer point of view to the house’s firmly bespoke tradition.
By shifting some focus off the suit and on to military-inspired outerwear, G&H is actually getting back to its roots. James Watson Gieve began his distinguished career in 1835 making navy jackets. This helps explain the choice of venue (Somerset House’s Navy Board Rooms, where onetime customer Horatio Nelson did his war planning) and the fact that an eight-button admiral’s topcoat served as the presentation’s centerpiece.
That coat is made out of fine cashmere, with horn buttons that reference Admiral Nelson by way of a nautical rope motif, and it’s perfectly contemporary. It comes across as less nineteenth-century than 1960′s, an era that a lot of the London tailoring world has been feeling lately. The slightly wider, drop-notch lapels on sport coats pay homage to swinging-London menswear icon Tommy Nutter, Tulip explained, and the geometric patterns on the collection’s silk ties and pocket squares were inspired by sixties decorator David Hicks. Even the lookbook is shot in a portrait style that brings to mind the photography of David Bailey and Lord Snowdon (and, to this reporter’s eye at least, features a model with a striking resemblance to a young Michael York).
All of which is to say that Gieves & Hawkes seems to have embraced the idea that when it comes to ready-to-wear, even tradition-minded men of means crave a little designer sensibility. As Tulip said, “To put it well, bluntly, or, you know, in a crass way, I suppose it’s value for money.”
Something about home court advantage, was it? Dunhill creative director Kim Jones is in town for New York fashion week, and he’s brought a little bit of Dunhill with him: The label has established a miniature version of its Mayfair headquarters, Bourdon House, in the Meatpacking District, complete with a video display of its courtyard foyer and looks from the Fall ’10 collection shown last month in Paris. Jones launched the installation last night with a Champagne-and-finger-foods fête for the industry; today, the public gets its chance to ogle both the new garb and select items from the Dunhill archive, including shagreen-covered lighters and personalized leather envelopes like the one Winston Churchill used back in the day. “Honestly, I can’t spend too long looking at the archive, because it just blows me away,” Jones said. “I’ve almost got too much to work with. It’s never-ending.” The pop-up Bourdon House, on the other hand, closes on February 18.
Creative director Kim Jones’s ambition for Dunhill is that it become the English Hermès. The fact both houses showed on the same day in Paris offered an opportunity to compare and contrast. Véronique Nichanian has perfected a casual, sensible luxury. Her signature look would probably be a cashmere V-neck (no shirt) under a jacket in some extravagant but muted animal skin (above). She stuck to that blueprint for Fall, but there was a quiet soulfulness to the collection, helped by the palette—also muted—of gray, navy, and earth tones.
At Dunhill, Jones had created a narrative for himself, with the story of company legend Clement Court who traveled overland from Paris to Japan in 1930 to work on the lacquered Namiki fountain pen, one of Dunhill’s most famous products. So Jones imagined clothes that would satisfy the demands of business, travel and leisure. And he was finally able to express to the fullest both sides of his design personality: his experience with tailoring and his facility with functional sportswear. Except, this time, there was Court’s story to provide a framework. So the suits were three-buttoned, sometimes three-piece, reflecting the thirties. A brown leather parka or a shearling flight jacket made me think of an indomitable English explorer. But there was no incongruous period feel. Jones kept it all light and easy, tucking suit pants into hiking socks, knocking the stuffing out of traditional fabrics. In the space of three seasons, he has also brought to Dunhill (pictured, below) the same instinct for casual luxury that Nichanian has.
The presentation was beautifully styled, but so tightly edited—a rapid-fire 30 looks—that I could have done with more, especially because Jones and his team have been applying themselves to some magical accessories. Some of them were very visible hanging from hiking belts, thanks to the tiger shagreen they were made from. Others, like the silk pocket squares printed with Court’s maps or drawings, or the stamped, addressed travel wallets (available for customizing with your own details), were tucked away.
To see all the photos from the Fall 2010 menswear shows, download our iPhone app here.