by LUKE LEITCH
A long-deceased cow proved the unlikely catalyst for this sometimes excellent collection that was especially notable for its easy, irreverent womenswear. As Sam Cotton explained backstage: “It started off from looking at my dad. He used to work as a farmer. Weirdly, he got bitten by a cow when he was worming it, on his hand, and he got tetanus. So my mum went to work and he started to be a house husband. So we started to look at how roles are defined in the home and why men have to be the breadwinner . . .”
Society has moved well beyond the norms of agricultural Warwickshire in the late ’90s, and traditional gender roles are a field long plowed by both fashion and Freddie Mercury in the video for “I Want To Break Free.” Yet today Agi & Sam found rich new pasture. For the cheap seats they laid on some easy—but still quite funny—gags. So the housebound guys (plus some girls too) wore Marigold washing up gloves or had brought-home-by-the-wife floral tributes plastered to their cheeks. Thrown in were some incongruous references from the designer’s childhood; the theme to The Archers on the soundtrack and a print of Derek “Del Boy” Trotter on a tee (both very specifically British). More nuanced were the clothes. The menswear included slim trousers and fitted zip-up jackets in top-to-toe jacquards reminiscent of chintzy upholstery up close and forest camouflage from afar. Soft cotton pants and flowing light coats came in breezy tablecloth ginghams. The designers say they are trying to repurpose tailoring and here it was served shortish sleeved, flat hemmed, and empty shouldered: soft power suits. Conversely some of the womenswear looks presented a marginally harder facade. So a long white coat came striped by tactile horizontal rows of stitched-on woolen tufts. A great look that combined a short cut notched lapel jacket teamed with a high cut full skirt was intersected by a thick-ribbed old school tie hem at the jacket and divided into navy above cream windowpane checks. What united the genders was their footwear, brothel creepers, and the differences between their men and women felt more complementary than antagonistic. That bitey moo received a credit too, via some handsome hide-paneled knit outerwear.