London Collections: Men brought a touch of elegance to an otherwise damp start to the New Year, and in their quiet, English, tweedy, home counties ways, both Hackett and Ted Baker reset the fashion bar.
Jeremy Hackett is a charming fellow. Always smiling, interested, and enthusiastic. He accompanied a couple of other writers and myself to the O2 Centre some time ago to see Juan Martin del Potro and Noval Djokovic in a thrilling ATB contest.
Family connections with Mr.Hackett go back even further. In the 80s, long before her latest embroidered paintings, Kim hand painted patterns and designs on to vintage white shirts, that she bought from Jeremy’s vintage clothes store in Parsons Green
Jeremy has come a long way since then and his collection events are big draws. This time last year Jeremy presented a winter range in the crypt of St.Pauls. This week he moved the show a mile west to the Masonic Hall, in Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, in a vast dark marble temple on the first floor, with stained glass windows, bathed in a fluorescent blue light.
Hackett’s theme for next year was ‘the glamour of travel’, which meant a lot of blazers and coats, anoraks, roll necks, Arran jumpers, and woolen caps with leather trimmed Globetrotter suitcases, and even an ice axe. Most of the clothes fall within Hackett’s Mayfair collection, and among the models were actors Jack Fox and Henry Lloyd Hughes and rugby player Tom Evans.
In fact, there wasn’t a great deal of difference between what was on show and what the audience – that had evidently spent as long in front of a mirror as the models – was wearing. Suits are in decline with most men opting for contrasting jacket and trouser combinations, with bow ties, and the sorts of rucksacks Hillary hauled up Everest.
My other London Collections event was the Ted Baker show in the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Under the banner Get In On The Act the first floor resembled the gypsy encampment in From Russia With Love: a stuffed bear and giant toy elephant, a pipe smoking gypsy girl who sang a song from a small wooden booth. A pianist and drummer, bales of straw and printed cushions.
Then, as the clock struck noon we were shepherded into a ‘big top’ where an opera singer and fire jugglers shared the limelight with Ted Baker models.
I was treated rather well, and shown to a seat right at the very apex of the catwalk and chatted dogs with Zoe who has a Jack Russell called Rudy.
I liked the Ted Baker clothes and wonder why they have passed beneath my radar until now. They have that bright, tight and youthful Englishness that also defines Hackett. I especially like the lurid waistcoat tweedy tie combinations and block colour pants and sweaters. The show went down well with the audience who Tweeted their approval in ‘real time’, their tweets projected larger than life on the rear wall.
What was alarming, although also oddly reassuring, was the clear divide on show at both collections between what a man of my age should and should not wear. For some time mens’ clothes have been ageless, creating the awful prospect of fathers and sons turning out the same. Just the other day I attended a party where both sported ‘undercut’ barnets, of the sort worn by David Beckham, among others.
There’s no risk of me asking Spike, or Kim (my other hairdresser) to give me an undercut. And neither is their any chance of me wearing either a tweedy Hackett or Ted Baker jacket, much as I like their tight fitting Dickensian, crotch length looks. It’s smart whilst being irreverent. Elegant but louche. Great dressed either down – shirt out and informal – or up with a waistcoat and tie.
What I value about these body hugging bum freezers is that you have to be under 40 (35 really) to get away with one. And for that reason alone – creating a much needed male age distinction that’s been missing for years – both collections were triumphs, of lamb over mutton.