Nostalgia may be the most pervasive force in fashion right now. The catwalks are an orgy of references, throwbacks and tributes. At Saint Laurent, we see Hedi Slimane hark back to the sixties with his little rockstar army. At Gucci, Alessandro Michele’s keen on the romance of the seventies. For A/W 16, a fair few male designers turned the clocks back and referenced the ghosts of wardrobes past - the staple items of their youth. At E. Tautz, Patrick Grant was looking back on his eighties teenage style aspirations. Neil Barrett has nearly a decade on Grant, so he can just about reminisce about the seventies (you could see that influence in the chocolatey palette with dashes of yellow and red). Barrett was harking back to his childhood in Devon - hence all the Dartmoor moorlands-inspired eagle and hawk prints - a far cry from his current set-up in Milan. Perhaps that explains the shift in mood - there was a tenderness to this collection that isn’t usually present in Barrett’s slick, sharp, linear designs.
We think of Barrett as a very modern design - the king of tight trousers, good bombers, crisp coats and, of course, graphic sweatshirts. Did the hark-backs confuse things? No. His signature graphics ended up keeping this up-to-the-date, even if they did, thanks to the colour tones, sometimes morph into patterns than suggested vintage finds or retro crockery, specifically Hornsea pottery. Indeed, that brown was familiar. It gave off whiffs of Prada. But remember, that’s fair territory for Barrett to plough - he pretty much set up Miuccia Prada’s menswear line back in 1993. Perhaps he’d been looking back on those days - this collection certainly suggested a skill with appealing, alluring ugliness. It's hard to do a decade without making costume. This felt like clothes. Those zip-though tops (a hit this season, thanks to the previous groundwork of J.W Anderson in setting up the trend), bombers and peacoats looked at good today as they probably did back when Barrett wore them the first time.