There’s no doubt about it, this London Fashion Week Men’s has been a quiet one for The Rake, with many sartorial stalwarts neglecting to show this time around. Which, it must be said, makes the prospect of the Chester Barrie AW17 presentation today even more exciting than usual. Readers will doubtless be well aware that the house has a reputation for producing some of the most exquisite ready-to-wear tailoring in British fashion, with an emphasis on quality of construction, technical detail and contemporary design flair. The house’s eveningwear in particular has a reputation for its exquisite styling and inventive yet wearable design touches, as is testified by the hybrid ‘blazedo’ jacket and double-breasted French blue dinner suit which Chester Barrie are retailing in conjunction with The Rake on shop.TheRake.com at the moment.
For the house’s designer, Christopher Modoo, AW17 presents an opportunity not just to continue to push the boundaries of technically correct formalwear and play with tailoring convention in a tasteful way, but also to demonstrate that the house is more than capable of creating separates that sit effortlessly in a casual context – introducing a side to Chester Barrie that reflects changes in men’s lifestyle and in the formal-casual divide that’s currently filtering through luxury menswear. With all this in mind, what exactly can we expect this afternoon? We took the time to chat with Modoo a few weeks back to get the inside scoop.
What can we expect to see in the collection this afternoon? What direction are you moving Chester Barrie for AW17?
I think you’re going to see stronger pattern, but styled in a very modern way. For eveningwear, the fact that we can commission our own house Ottoman lapel facings in any colour we choose has opened up a world of possibilities. So we’re bringing the velvet smoking jacket back in, faced with lapels, buttons and pocket jets faced in tonal Ottoman in different colours. We’re really pushing our low-buttoning double-breasted model, the Kingly; we keep refining it and tweaking it, finding fabrics that work really well for it. We’ve done a new take on the Black Watch tartan dinner jacket that is particularly special and we’ve made a number of double-breasted sports jackets; the idea of the sports jacket is a little bit dressier than it was before.
I suppose the overall look, thinking back to last autumn, is a bit more polished, a bit more lux. Everything is a little more refined, I never go out in any collection to be typically ‘English’, but I’m on Savile Row so whatever I do will retain a Savile Row character to it. Certainly I think the look from Chester Barrie next autumn/winter is going to be slightly more polished. It’s not just about dressing up though, we’re also presenting a number of very sharp pieces in a casual context. If you look at the corduroy dinner jacket we’re showing, it was a style made famous by the Duke of Winsor in exile with his corduroy dinner suit. Now, cord is perceived as a casual fabric, we’re just dressing it up a little as a dinner jacket and then keeping it relaxed with a knit and jeans.