It began to drizzle as Neil Barrett showed his S/S 2013 collection, which put an regrettable dampener on what should have been a happy occasion given that this strong showing – matched with the success of last season’s tailoring – signals a definitive return to form for the designer after a few off seasons.
Barrett broke free from his long relationship with ultra-tight tailoring, choosing to explore oversized sporty pieces. His theme of athleticism was evident in baggy-fit shorts, cocooned sweatshirts and baseball jackets in pleasant hues of navy, khaki and, at points, metallic copper. Stand out stars from this collection included the bomber jackets, sculptured with padding in a way that suggested American footage gear. Some fitted looks made an appearance – there were still a few of his favourite zip-ankle trousers – but alongside the other easy shapes and supple fabrics the effect was less predictable than usual. Indeed, the combination of flow and fit, and smart and casual was particularly strong this season and underpinned the appeal of the collection as a whole.
As well as watering down his tight-is-right mentality Barrett also (mostly) put to bed his obsession with referencing rebel groups and deviant youth movements. The only nods to teen culture came in the accessories – slip-on trainers and backpacks – and a few punkish leather pieces in the closing black looks. All in all this collection seems more relevant than anything else Barrett has offered for S/S recently. Granted this may be because a lot of what he was doing drew on the success of other burgeoning designers around him, but what’s the harm in that? Barrett has never been one to push or provoke - he built his business simply making great, well-cut clothes, and finally it seems he’s back to doing just that.