Backstage, clasping two grapefruit that had just been brought from a friend’s Ibiza garden, James Long seemed a designer at peace. After all, while this collection was tight, it also felt like a coherent and comprehensive attempt to lend his rough-edged London creativity a more commercial and luxury-touched appeal without compromising his core.
Long, though, was “absolutely gutted” that a late delivery had resulted in the loss of 10 looks. Rainbow-dotted quilted jackets, overcoats, and scarves, plus a black parka that substituted velvet for fur had all failed to make it to the venue.
Really, though, no matter. The runway featured a convincing dark-hued wardrobe of ragged-hemmed, formfitting, progressive streetwear that was strewn with decorations but not weighed down by them. Strapping that hangs off clothes for the sake of it often does nothing more than tempt fate, but the webbing here was a shadow of Long’s early-career harnesses, and it was short enough to pose no significant risk in an elevator. The straps were also used to cinch what seemed a borderline peplum with a hint of Valentino-esque ruffles above a pair of blue drill combats. Sportswear-lining mesh was employed as patching, along with blue lace, which also outer-layered one webbed blouson. Trucker jackets had pockets that looked like refugees from different garments, in contrasting materials—different denims, shearling—and of disjunctive proportions. Mixed-paint swirls of color—illustrations by James Davison—oozed on the front of knit polos and sweaters; they also provided the palette for the absent dotted quilted coats. Ragged but refined, this collection felt rich despite its missing elements.