'How can you move on from what you’re doing?' Neil Barrett rhetorically asked at his womenswear presentation in Rue du Mail on Saturday afternoon. Since the overwhelming success of his menswear collection from Autumn/Winter 2013, based on German Modernism, the designer has had to adapt to a way of evolving creatively often associated with the likes of Ann Demeulemeester and Rick Owens, who famously move very quietly through their own aesthetics. Unless you’re hell-bent on changing your entire signature every season, this working method is simply what comes with an immense fan base, who want their designer to remain within a certain universe. 'I love what I’m wearing now,' Barrett said, gesturing at the foamy geometrical print jumper that’s become his new trademark, 'and I have to wear versions of it every day. So I how do I make a new story, which moves on from that but which I equally desire to wear?' For Barrett, the answer came in the shape of an Eames lounger he had in his house ('I was sitting on it,' he quipped), the curves of which would inform his spring/summer 2014 men’s collection.
For its womenswear counterpart, Barrett took his inspiration to the next level, incorporating the curvature of Eames’ designs into shoes and bags, which incorporated wood details similar to the lounger. Compared to last season’s conversion of Barrett’s men’s collection to womenswear, this was a more feminine expression, whose air of classic American sportswear made it look positively girlie, not least in the skater skirts and the dresses, which had an easiness to them. Feathers appeared on baseball caps and on some of the sweatshirts, adding texture and a certain amount of plush to the collection, while feather prints featured as a more wearable alternative, echoing Barrett’s recognition of the popularity of his pieces. As a season it took just the right amount of steps forward from the last, and as a womenswear take on a men’s collection, it managed to hold its own.