The lights dimmed. A specially commissioned soundtrack by Thom Yorke started thumping and throbbing and the first few models strolled purposefully down the runway in what appeared to be the beginnings of an homage to the glory years of Helmut Lang : loose monochrome tailoring, parachute straps, and military fabrications & accents included.
But just when we thought we were going to be treated to Wainright and Neville's Spring follow-up to last season's blockbusting cosy, comfy & casual take on cool, something happened. It all started to get a little surreal and conceptual - not exactly buzz words you’d associate with the Golden Boys of the go-to wardrobe for off-duty models and the doyennes of downtown dressing; and proof further, that even these gilded ganders are capable of laying the occasional rotten egg.
Proportions became exaggerated; fabric choices, perplexing and the styling …… just plain laboured. It became virtually impossible to see past all of these confusing factors to find anything remotely wearable in this perplexing mash-up of digital postcard prints, artisanal macramé and bondage detailing.
Perhaps , I’m being a little harsh , and to their credit , Spring/Summer has never been R’n B’s strongest season. They seem a lot more within their comfort zone working with Autumns worsted wools, nostalgic tailoring and muted palette on which they have built one of the most successful brands of the last decade.
And whilst fashion is about constantly pushing boundaries and experimenting with new ideas, its very important for a fledgling mega-brand to not only transition aesthetically from one season to the next , but to remain comprehensive in the eyes of their core customer - especially in trying financial times when one bad season has the potential to capsize the cashflow of even the most successful designer.
I truly hope this will not be the case here and will be eager to see Messrs. Neville and Wainwright back next season doing what they do best. Giving us clothes we will want to live in, as well as live with.
I promise I will be there cheering them on …….. if they invite me back. Sorry Lads.
- Andrew Holden in New York