Lou Dalton does a stellar job in finding the ideal balance between her beloved masculine tailoring and the more feminine IT luxe sportswear. Following the current London trends of blending in the former and the latter, her SS15 clearly demonstrates she is pushing herself further away from her signature demure tailoring ways–the kind of classical furrows of tailoring. Instead, she is venturing towards a subdued embracing of a more rebellious subculture, in search of a way of making menswear that feels truthful to today. Loosing the narrative that had featured her previous work referencing and taking inspiration from farmhands and RAF air base youngsters, she now declares control–of her brand, her design, and her vision of the modern man.
As she meekly (yet proudly) reveals what is really within, “I had a couple of mentoring sessions during this process, and in one of the sessions somebody said to me, ‘It’s very much about it being on your terms’. And it was quite poignant, because I never really thought about it. You know, I came into this to put beautiful clothes on boys’ backs, and I kind of went back to where I came from, to traditional tailoring but not in a traditional form. I just wanted a more textured finish, something a little bit different. It feels like something new, something fresh. It feels like a homecoming for me, in a way. Something that I have wanted to do for a while.”
A Royal College of Art graduate, Lou Dalton has never hidden her admiration for such cult figures as David Hockney and Morrissey. She has also regularly cited her Teddy Boy father’s influence on her work. It is about a certain pride in appearance, a non-conformist streak and an innate state of style epitomising that legendary era of the British culture. One could put the equation as follows–and Dalton surely appears to agree on this: there is nothing more authentically rebellious than reworking and remixing what is traditional (and generally perceived as out of place or time or whichever other term of reference pops in your mind).
Dalton’s collections offer a masterful blend of wearable items with a wild twist that keeps them on the side of trend-setting fashion. Her keywords this season are control and protection–moods you could sense in the collection’s precise, on-the-verge-of clinical stance. Dalton herself said it defines “who we are as a brand, who I am as a designer, where we’ve come from, and where we are going now”.
Alongside a soundtrack by DJ Jim Stanton of famous London club night Horse Meat Disco, the recent SS15 show (held at Victoria House in Bloomsbury Square) delivered a number of minimal looks in blocks of navy, white and pastel pink jacquard. Lightweight fabrics and meshes revealed harnesses under tailored jackets and baseball shirts, creating high, slim shoulder lines. Flatly embedded detailing and fine-knit sweaters layered in a sharp, more contemporary language, their splashes of red, white and cornflower blue jolting Dalton’s faded grey, glum brick and navy palette firmly into the present. Slightly oversized coats and jackets featured, paired with above-the-knee shorts or slim cut chinos. The classic bomber also popped up in three colour options, all featuring zipper details. Patches were used as a repeated motif under the arm, as well as on the shoulders and collars of shirts and outerwear. The shoes–made in collaboration with Grenson for the second season running–took inspiration from builders’ shoes with heavy, jagged Vibram soles, but they were feminised with lacing from ghillies, a kind of dancing shoe used in Ireland and Scotland. As for the eyewear, Dalton presented sunglasses in scientist resin in partnership with online glasses retailer Ace & Tate, inspired by her own time in science class at school.
It all felt deeply, calmly resolved. But what was most catchy, as ever, was the imprecision emerging from the almost clinical sense of control and measure – the fault lines between ideas, the slipping into the gaps between tradition and invention. “I come from a traditional background,” Dalton said backstage after the show. “I wanted to hone in on that, but update it. There’s a military undertone in the collection, but not in a traditional sense. I wanted it to feel fresh, but still be masculine”. And she achieved this by providing what she called “a feminine balance”, like the distorted petals of the knitwear. She infused splinters of the past – drowsy countryside plaids, outsized keepers’ pockets, utility details – into a clean, disciplined collection that The Smiths would still be wearing today. She evoked a slightly wilder newness, a feeling of energy and lust for life most modern men should readily embrace.
· Official Website: www.loudalton.com
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