This season, Lou Dalton had a firm eye on the changes taking place across fashion - the schedule movements, the decision by many big brands to combine menswear and womenswear (hence Burberry’s absence from this set of London menswear shows), the vaguely hysterical headlines describing a ‘system in crisis’. She’s taking all the fuss and difficulties in her stride, considering rationally and carefully what suits her young brand - what will help it grow steadily and positively in the way she desires. Make no mistake, Dalton is as ambitious as they come. She just doesn’t seek attention through personal fame or big headlines, instead she’s driven to build a business that will outlive her. For A/W 17, she felt that a presentation was more appropriate than a show - it also gave her the chance to show off a new fashion film starring her long time supporter actor Russell Tovey - remarking that many past attendees had commented that they would like to take in her collections up close. Of course they would! Her colourful collaboration with artist John Booth - another longterm friendship - was made to be viewed in detail. Indeed, Dalton’s work is at its best off the runway - when worn in real life, rather than on the catwalk. She caters to men who love clothes but live real lives that demand flattering knit sweaters that can disguise a paunch (Dalton has a knack for putting the bulk in the shoulders to avoid any gut-clinging), good denim and cosy outerwear. Men who when they love an item want the opportunity to repeat purchase - today the same pieces were shown in a range of finishes. Like Dalton? You can get your classics in white or raw indigo denim.
As her models sat pretty, we discussed her desire to remain positive and focused in these current tricky times. That contrasts from some of her London peers who have channelled their disillusionment into collections that explore pessimism and difficulty - see Christopher Shannon who showed just before her or Liam Hodges who presented the day before. She talked of plugging on - keeping going with the path she knows can work. Dalton is the queen of a uniform - she has delivered successfully, season upon season, building blocks for a modern wardrobe. She’s playing to her strengths for A/W 17. But on the note of optimism, that orange pom pom knit couldn’t help but raise a smile