James Long Spring/Summer 2016 Menswear
Even today, much of Brighton—a Georgian resort town an hour south of London—has resisted much of the gentrification that is so rapidly altering the capital. Back in the early ’90s, when James Long just about recalls staggering to the stone beach wearing a bathrobe to recover from the night before, this was a place where the Levellers-loving radical crusties and clubbers on a comedown after Coco rubbed along just fine. Around them crumbled some of the British Empire’s most bravado-charged architectural jewels, chief of which was the ersatz pleasure palace built for George IV, the Royal Pavilion.
Today Long alchemized this inspirational swirl into a collection of easy, dreamy extravagance. A mix of paisley and chinoiserie was as inchoate as the architectural appropriation of the Prince Regent’s pleasure palace, the off-the-shoulder camo-print dressing-gown coats and evening jackets were opium-den undone. More acid house than Royal Pavilion was the tie-dyed and roughly painted distressed denim, and crustie-weave jacquard (sometimes patched) on bombers, frayed hoodies, jeans, and puffas. Like those Brighton tribes, the disparate elements of Long’s proposition rubbed happily alongside each other: a liberally be-ruffled short-sleeved dress shirt above patched collage jeans, or a pair of track shorts tied with what looked like a black silk cravat. It all came together in a personally observed, deftly achieved, and broadly desirable collection.