“The concept is without,” said Darren Barrowcliff,Hardy Amies’s head of design, while surveying his 14-look collection on a phalanx of models arranged at The Arts Club of Mayfair, London. It’s a sound bite fashion journalists are hearing more and more of backstage; designers are sidestepping the à la mode for the gut, and doing what feels right and what feels, ultimately, true. For Barrowcliff, a return to “classic Savile Row lines with softness” was his instinct. For the most part, it worked.
Previously, Hardy Amies had used its Savile Row ancestry as a spine of sorts. Around it, a conceptual and technical rib cage grew (Amies himself wasn’t afraid of moving past traditionalism; he designed the costumes for 2001: A Space Odyssey and was the first in London to stage a men’s fashion show, at the Savoy, in 1961). But with Barrowcliff in the driver’s seat (he replaced Mehmet Ali), the label’s new look is much more pared back, a gentlemanly dark-wood closet full of woven cashmeres and alpaca yarns, with a softness in break and silhouette suggesting, additionally, a heavier emphasis on luxury. (Tony Dover Street and a pearly white Aston Martin parked outside certainly helped with that aura.) The best of the lot was a double-breasted wool suit—its pants came with an expertly cut-and-placed cargo pocket. Standouts included a “cognac”-color car coat in alpaca and a shawl-collared cashmere tuxedo, which Barrowcliff counted among his favorites.
There wasn’t anything particularly original here, though; you’ve seen these clothes before, but maybe that’s the point, maybe that’s the aforementioned eschewing of seasonality. Men will wear them. But cultivating some kind of signature wouldn’t hurt, as the Savile Row aesthetic is readily available and almost overdefined, planet-wide. There should be a tiny bit more edge or differentiating identity to gild all the finery.