by Alex R. Travers
“A raw, young farmhand, innocent and bleak,” was the stated inspiration for Lou Dalton’s Fall 2014 men’s wear show in London this morning. It was all there for us to see on her mood board: a pinup picture of a wandering bindlestiff next to a few others of men tilling the soil in outfits with Paul Harnden–esque silhouettes. Imaginations ran rampant: Social Realism? Courbet’s “The Stone Breakers?”
But all that’s not really Dalton’s aesthetic. If she took anything from the farm this season, it was an earthy color palette: extra-large button downs with Rousseau-like camo prints, ochre brown corduroy coats and trenches, and bleached denims that looked as if they’d been left in the sun for weeks. All in all, she seemed to have subverted tough outwear into something rather natural and soft. (Who wouldn’t want to cozy up in—or next to—that oversized cashmere in the purest of lamb white?)
It seemed suitable for Dalton and her range of clients. For one thing, all the pieces were tailored to near perfection. Credit that to the designer’s childhood pattern-making apprenticeship at James Purdey & Sons. While that job wasn’t fashion related, per se, it gave lifeblood to the sartorial thread that runs through her collections.
About tailoring, her suiting—simple and smart—was especially noteworthy this season. “Being a pattern cutter makes you a stronger designer because you understand the skeletal form,” says Dalton. In fact, if push came to shove, she could make the whole collection—“expect the knitwear,” she admits—in-house. That sense of fashion Darwinism speaks volumes about the designer’s passion for all aspects of her craft.