For fall/winter 2014, Neil Barrett looks to nature, abstract art and his label's foundation of modernist menswear.
The collection is resolutely dark: a palette of brown from ebony through walnut and shades of blue mix with pure monochrome. The focus is not on colour, but on juxtapositions of texture and fabrications, surfaces clean canvasses for explorations of textile and finish.
Jackets and coats are closed, fastenings concealed. Lines are sleek and streamlined, every seam perfectly considered.
The silhouette plays on contrast. Tailored coats, jackets and bombers are oversized or slim, the ease of spring's sportswear shapes translated into outerwear, set above skinny trousers sometimes cuffed with a ribbed knit. The tailoring utilises the lightness of sportswear, fabrics bonded to give body without weight. Sports-focussed pieces are quilted in luxurious fabrics, fine wool and rayon.
The sweatshirt is a lynchpin of the collection - conceptually and literally. Bonded, structured coats are rendered as light and simple to wear as a sweatshirt, while the garment itself appears frequently, freshly-detailed with zips and press-stud fastening to form a new piece of outerwear. The new sweatshirt is an alternative to the jacket, a resolutely contemporary hybrid of casual and formal.
The collection's key graphic motif is the lightning-bolt: sharp and dynamic, it ricochets across sportswear, forms a repeat-print on evening tuxedos and is used to create a trompe l'oeil Fair Isle design on a sweatshirt. Other sweatshirts have the motif pieced into the surface, in a technically complex intarsia, and applique.
Nature is reengineered to modernist ideals. Fur is reinterpreted, re-imagined as an engineered astrakhan woven into graphic chevrons, or as a photorealistic print on technical sweatshirting, used for outerwear that both opens and closes the show.
Degrade is a theme across the collection, ombrés of ebony to black or ink-blue to black reminiscent of the subtle differentiation of tone in the works of Mark Rothko. Degrade is also applied to footwear, on derby and chelsea boots with heavy serrated soles, or sneakers in shades of brown, black and blue flashed with bolts of white.
For the first time, Neil Barrett creates a range of optical wear to sit alongside his collection. The glasses fuse Wayfarers with classic mid-century styles, subtly contrasting gloss and matte finishes in blues, black and tortoiseshell that echoes the palette as a whole. The sunglasses epitomise the entire collection's mood: of hybrid, sportswear blended into formality, a fusion that feels new and relevant for today.