NEIL BARRETT AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR PARIS FASHION WEEK
Neil Barrett built his Fall womenswear from the ground up. He started with the pierced punk boots from his men’s collection. Then he tried to imagine what Siouxsie Sioux might wear to be interviewed by Penny Martin’s erudite biannual The Gentlewoman. Something punk, but refined. That’s really the crux of Barrett’s ethos. He likes hard edges and bonded, dry fabrics, but he is also a master of beautiful precision and a technical skill that can transform something as banal as a mod’s parka into a must-have. It’s almost as though needle-punching was invented for him. Two of the best pieces here were the hooded top half of that parka needle-punched into the bottom half of a tailored overcoat, and then vice versa, with the coat’s lapels and the parka’s drawstringed tail.
Barrett interwove three stories: technical sportswear knits; biker details; and reworked pieces from his menswear. What they had in common was a consciousness of the body. The bikers were cropped in body and sleeve, the outerwear taped with leather or eco-suede to define the form beneath. The dialogue between masculine and feminine elements was Barrett’s most sophisticated yet: the softness of an angora sweater with cabled sleeves vs. the substance of an asymmetrical military cape. And all of them in shades of blue and black, “something I’ve wanted to do for years,” said Barrett.
His new signature, the Kaboom, looked irresistible splayed across a coat, or woven into a star jacquard. The collection’s other major motif was the diagonal inset that bisected short leather skirts. Explosions and slashes? But Barrett himself is such a pussycat. It’s just his clothes that have got serious attitude.