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Neil Barrett is On a Roll

When Neil Barrett's forensic analysis of design hits rather than misses, it does so with such conviction and authenticity that it’s utterly irresistible.
Neil Barrett Autumn/Winter 2017 | Source: InDigital.tv
By
  • Tim Blanks

MILAN, Italy — Neil Barrett evolves incrementally as a designer, through forensic analysis of what once was and what could be again. It's a hit-and-miss process, but when it hits, as it did with his latest collection, it does so with such conviction and authenticity that it's utterly irresistible.

We know the story: the family tradition of military tailoring yielding a genetic predisposition to cuts as rigorous as a surgeon's scalpel. But Barrett has been leaking other bits of bio into his design. His time at Central St Martin's in the 1980s, during a gloriously cultish blossoming of the London underground — The Face, Ray Petri's Buffalo, Goth, look after look after look — wormed its way into the clothes he showed on Saturday, and cast a halo effect over his own signatures: Barrett's hybrids, for instance, stitching together a jacket, a bomber or a biker with a long coat to create a full-skirted trompe l'oeil effect, looked better than ever (especially in black leather).

If there was still something uniform about the overall look — Barrett has always loved a monochrome palette —  he used accents of colour like never before: a yellow cable knit over pinstripe trackies, red-striped cadet pants under a grey flannel coat. And there were graphics: the iconic face of Siouxsie Sioux, reproduced on everything from trench coats to track pants.

Barrett also enlarged and softened his silhouettes. The drop shoulder was a major asset with the womenswear he reintroduced to his catwalk. But it was no longer a simple, unadapted adjunct to his menswear. Dropped shoulders, yes, but also an hourglass silhouette, a sense of tomboy embracing womanhood. The boy’s on a roll.

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