Yohji Yamamoto has often mentioned how fabric speaks to him. Lou Dalton, too, seems like a designer who is in constant conversation with her materials, and also with the details in her collections. Take, for example, the ribbons attached to the collection’s zippers, putting these functional necessities into relief, rather than obscuring them. Or the oversize pockets with heavy topstitching. A dusty-pink cashmere/wool mix used on sweaters and pants had been brushed and on the reverse had a gray, molten effect. It all looked precise.

The collection was triggered by an old photo of Dalton’s dad dressed in a boiler suit, and sure enough there were versions of it, both in dark check and classic MA1 nylon. That photo and Dalton’s “feeling a bit maudlin,” as she put it backstage, spawned a looking-back at the 1960s (she mentioned the Apollo project and Thunderbirds cartoon strips). The garments didn’t have a need for storytelling—the clothes spoke loud enough themselves. Tapered, cropped trousers had been given width and they felt on point—fresh against most men’s slimmer choices. Cargo pockets were positioned askew. Inner pockets on coats and jackets peeked out, rendered in a different color and material than the outerwear itself.

The focus on functionality is a recurring theme for Dalton, who here created a sense that garments were in a state of flux, with detachable arms transforming jackets into gilets, or two-in-one coats with the inner coat protruding underneath the outer one. She said that she wanted to give men a sense of control, to expose the interior, their sensitive side. It all looked desirable and wearable, and the collection also fit into men’s fetishizing of the functional (what else can you do when toiling away in an office?). It’s a thoroughly modern fetish and in a way, a paradoxical one; but it’s this lack of real necessity that makes these clothes fashionable.

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