When TheChicGeek met Neil Barrett - see here - he was just about to unveil this collection in Milan. He told TheChicGeek he was inspired by his childhood and the 1970s and the collection was a mix of his classic smart sportswear and 70s inspired chevrons and colours.
Neil really knows how to make clothes that flatter. Here we have a classic bomber given movement with the herringbone detail on the arms, a super luxurious knit polo with epaulettes and subtle jacquard trousers with a camo-type design. The look is finished off with smart, white gum sole shoes.
Credits - All clothes Neil Barrett from Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge, Trainers - Tim Little x Grenson, Spectacle - Salvatore Ferragamo, PRO LS All-In-One Face Cleansing Gel - Lab Series, Stress Fix Body Lotion - Aveda,
Shot on Olympus PEN by Robin Forster
More images & video below
Does menswear really need yet another luxury label? It does if it can offer something different that caters to wealthy men by making their lives easier, increasing comfort and looking smart while not being too difficult or ‘fashiony’ to wear. So, no challenge there then?!
Left - Helbers AW16 Luxury menswear staples with sports detailing and modern fabric mixes
Many traditional luxury menswear brands have fallen into that trap of trying to draw attention to themselves, the brand and the product and it risks alienating its core group and those who can really afford it. Just look at the new Brioni or Zegna’s, now, defunct Couture line. They are all chasing the same customers and these men are picky and know exactly what they want.
Well, I’m introducing, Helbers, a new label of luxury menswear staples from Dutch designer, Paul Helbers. When I first saw this, in the Spring, it was the attention to detail and quality which you could instantly see, and that was just the branded hangers!
You may have heard of Helbers before from his time in charge of Louis Vuitton’s men’s under Marc Jacobs from 2006 to 2011. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, he has also worked at Maison Margiela.
AW16 is his first collection and I would describe it as Jil Sander meets Neil Barrett. Made in Italy, mostly near Venice, it is a small selection of classic and pure menswear pieces with athletic elements and fabric mixes. It is pricey, but I think this is a brand designed to complement the wearer rather than dominate.
Italians do it better. This seems to be the theme coming out of Milan fashion week where the Italians have taken the bull by the horns and produced some of the best menswear we’ve seen from them in a long time. You may as well go down in style!
Here are TheChicGeek’s trend highlights:
Think avocado and prawn cocktail sauce.
From Left - Gucci, Bally, Gucci
The seventies got a refresh and contemporary update. Chevrons were the order of the day.
From Far Left - Neil Barrett, Fendi, Dsquared2, Neil Barrett
(See TheChicGeek meet Neil Barrett just before this collection - here)
Knowing Fendi this is probably made from kittens. Get the robe out of the spa and take it to the street.
More bleach. It's one way of cleaning your clothes. (See how London did it - here)
From Left - Gucci, Dsquared2, MSGM, Bally
The most stylish men are always prepared. Now get over prepared!
From Left - Moncler Gamme Bleu, Ferragamo, Prada, Ferragamo
Nobody dresses up anymore, said no one, ever. It's time to get imaginative and experiment with new shapes including ruffles and tails.
From Left - Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci
Jazz, great! From literal at Dolce to art-deco Marcel waves at Fendi. I thought I'd throw a painting from the era by British artist Duncan Grant for additional inspiration.
From Left - Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Missoni, Fendi, Ralph Lauren
Rediscover your waist. Suck it in and stick a letter on it.
Left - Bally
Nobody does narcissism like the Italians!
Below - Giorgio Armani
I have a new found respect for Neil Barrett’s work after meeting him. While he’s never produced ‘look-at-me-internet-attention' grabbing clothes, he does enough to move his brand on, each and every season, and was a pioneer of the ‘athleisure’ trend which has filtered into the various echelons of menswear.
Left - Neil Barrett & his new 'Muse'!
I didn’t fully appreciate his designs until I saw them in the display which is currently on in Harvey Nichols new #Project109 menswear exhibition space. This are designs which could be easily dismissed as simple or minimal, but on closer inspection there's a hell of a lot more going on.
Harvey Nichols has asked Neil to look at his archive and display and reproduce favourite pieces from his collections from the past ten years. He says he saves every look from each of the four collections he produces every year, so that’s some serious storage facility.
After working for Gucci, Prada and establishing his own eponymous brand in 1999, he continued the minimal menswear aesthetic, but more recently started to introduce signature Barrett designs such as the chevron sweatshirt and lightning bolt.
‘ORIGINALS: Vol #1’ is a re-edition of 12 original designs, including the iconic buffalo jackets, leather-detailed coats and T-Shirts, jacquard suiting, colour-blocked shirts, and the double-bonded sweatshirts.
About to show his SS17 collection in Milan, Neil said he was inspired by his childhood in the 1970s in Devon, so the shapes and colours of items relate to items he used to wear then, but reimagined for now with his same attention to detail, design and modern fabrics.
Go visit - Harvey Nichols Project 109
Below - An example of the exhibit from Neil Barrett's archive
Okay, okay, for you discerning fashion gents out there this does have something of the Neil Barrett's about it, albeit with more colour. (He's moved onto lightning strikes anyway!)
Valentino are knocking it out of the park at the moment. They've lucked out on their Creative Directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who are creating both commercial and beautiful items while keep all the different layers of fashion consumers happy.
If you're a ChicGeek reader then you're obviously part of the most sophisticated layer and nothing gets more sophisticated than this. Definitely a 'fashion' piece, it still has legs to become something of a timeless classic. The design is said to draw inspiration from the work of Australian artist Esther Stewart. A detectable blue sheepskin collar allows it to venture into deeper winter territory and despite keeping you warm, nothing looks cooler.
Left & Below - Valentino - Panelled Bomber Jacket With Shearling Collar - £1715