Molte Britannico! Backstage, Neil Barrett described his collection as: 'Very British..well, actually super British!'
In a morning that had seen me turned away from the French, German and all other EU countries press entrance at Dolce & Gabbana – with the UK Press now being grouped with the US Press instead - one can’t deny that Italy (and Europe) is moving on. Neil Barrett, the English fashion designer who has built a commercially strong label based out of Milan is hope that our cultural exchange might continue from within the walls of Europe.
This season he was inspired by his art school days in 1980s London and his family’s tradition as military tailors. Last season’s suede woodcut patch-working saw his minimalist style 'warm up' somewhat, and the graphic was revisited this time via a red, black and white jigsaw panelled jacket. Wanting to play with his eponymous white stripe, this season Barrett said: ‘Instead of just doing the white stripes, it was about adding in pops of colour. So just like the Buffalo gang in the 1980s, where they had little pops of colour. I was inspired by Ray Petri, but I wanted to do it my way today.’ Barrett also managed to get permission from Siouxsie and the Banshees to use and rework some of their original imagery. White emulsion screenprints of Siouxsie’s face were placed on the chest or backs of black trench coats – and looked highly collectable as a knitted intarsia scarf. When a motif works it really works. And it really worked here.
A collection very much based on hybrids, some of the highlights included track pants in tailored fabrics with press-stud side fastenings, and long apron coats fused together with puffa jackets – which created a sporty blacksmith aesthetic. Meanwhile, a simple cableknit jumper in yellow was knockout.
As all the models took to the runway for the finale, they swarmed together like striped wasps. You could see the team had been busy bees. History may have been there, but there was also lots of craft and ideas created in the here and now.