For SS16, E Tautz added a new chapter to British designers’ book of self infatuation. Patrick Grant used as starting point the Festival of Britain. This was the first Labour government’s attempt to celebrate British technology and design and to promote a feeling of recovery on the centenary of the Great Exhibition following the Second World War. Like the best nostalgia, hindsight gives the most flattering light. While the actual Festival of Britain was seen as a sham masking still-rationed reality of the masses, it’s bright optimism of a new world order makes for a fabulous starting point in an era when the word austerity is back in vogue.
Expounding the simple vision of mid-century architecture, Grant showed clean lines and minimal colours – single breasted jackets, shirts with zip fastenings that evoked 1950s housecoats. Even the wide leg, high waisted jeans shown in the latter part of the collection, which Grant himself wore to take his bow, had the clean, self-assured structure evocative of buildings of the era. A pattern of oval shapes, appearing first as leather detail on a sweater then in single colour print, looked like it would not look a jot out of place as a wallpaper of the time.
The slicked back duckbill hairstyles, fresh faced models, bomber jackets and plimsolls (by Louboutin, no less) made clear a focal point the youthful energy of the teenager, who symbolised the optimism of the future in the 1950s. Playful gingham was used on shorts and blazers, the abandon of the baggy jeans, happy bright oranges and reds made a bold young spirit the muse of this collection. As Britain emerges once more from an economic downturn, Grant seems to be promoting a sense of brave new spending when it comes to what men want to wear.
Words: Rena Smith