Lou Dalton's taste for the hard-grafting workingman was ever present in her Autumn/Winter 2013 collection thanks to dalliance with labourers in a remote Scottish village and a determined American baron, eager to build an oil plant in its place. The theme of expansion and journeys to pastures new is fitting of a designer who has been steadily working her way up the ranks of London menswear with a quiet but brilliant formula of classic tones, neat tailoring and covetable casual-wear. Was this Dalton’s attempt to break free from the notions of modesty and humility that epitomise her brand and emerge at the forefront of modern menswear with the same aggression and ambition as her oily protagonist? Perhaps not. But either way, this was the kind of aesthetically strong and technically sound showcase that we have come to expect from this bright young talent and will certainly help continue her ascent.
There has always been something delightfully British about Dalton's work. Rather than battling with our native climes and customs she embraces them. So traditional, cosy fabrics such as raw Shetland wool and mohair formed the basis of many of the pieces, while hardwearing suiting and outerwear reflected the rugged style of hands-on outdoorsy men. A perfect bottle green tone that was sprinkled throughout the collection suggested the kind if chipped buried pieces of glass that young country children collect from their gardens. The colour was at its most stunning on an informal yet sturdy green hooded overcoat that offset some of the stiffer, boxy tailoring perfectly. All the looks were teamed with chunky boots, which were spawned from a new, and perfectly matched, collaboration with heritage British bookmakers Grenson. All together the message couldn't have been more on point for a chilly January morning – a rarity, given how infrequently the fashion calendar is on par with real living.
While the collection may have revolved around a conflict - the social and sartorial tension between the inhabitants of a quaint rural community and an aggressive foreign visitor - the work itself was a picture of harmony. Wool suits, tartan splashes and slick oilskin came together in a focused, tight showcase that made a comment on the direction of modern menswear without screaming or shouting. This is a classic approach for the quiet, humble Lou, and one that is proving unbeatable.