by Alex R. Travers
Before Dunhill was praised for its men’s wear, England’s Alfred Dunhill had become an icon of the automotive and tobacco industries, a gentleman who celebrated creativity and claimed to sell “everything for the car but the motor.” He peddled horns, lamps, leather overcoats, goggles, picnic sets, and timepieces, developing a new image for the well-traveled man. That look has been co-opted by everyone from movie stars to Wall Streeters. But you won’t find a lack of originality in creative director John Ray or his first spring collection for Dunhill, a colorful take on the brand’s rich heritage.
Ray, once men’s wear director at Gucci, is sniffing out adventure, not an odyssey that will change Dunhill’s identity. He actually finds formality attractive: “There’s something elegant about sticking to the rules,” he says. Still, an insurgent spirit comes in the form of slightly mismatched ties and shirts and brightly colored socks, moves right out of the prep-school playboy’s playbook. If your uniform requires a tie, Ray provides cool combos of colors. If tailored slacks and a blue blazer is your go-to outfit, why not wear it with red-and-white socks? But Dunhill is offering more than a style guide for blokes. What you’re looking at here is great tailoring, sharp and entirely British, and smart updates on traditional pieces. Curving seams and clever button placement on a double-breasted jacket make it entirely desirable, the wide peak lapels adding to the allure. A suede jacket in Air Force blue sits nicely over a loose floral shirt. And the bathing suits, cut short and floral-printed, are a fun addition to a collection whose color palette shines bright. In a story that is part classic tailoring and part modern wardrobe, it’s Ray who uses the clothes as a reminder of Dunhill’s history and offers an idea of where the brand is going.