Neil Barrett likes to define his collections with a provocative pairing: Fall 2007’s Amish Punk is one that springs effortlessly to mind. Today’s Classics and Classicism didn’t have quite that zing, but it sure nailed the essence of the offering. The classicism manifested in computer-manipulated prints derived from ancient sculpture: Here there was Aphrodite, while it was Apollo for the men’s collection Barrett showed in June. He composed an ingenious camouflage print from sculptural fragments.
The classic element came from Barrett’s attention to a man’s wardrobe, feminized with cut and detail. His foundation stone was a mutation of the plain white cotton shirt. Shirttails poked out from under a silver Lurex miniskirt as a trompe l’oeil detail. They detailed the hem of a shift dress in black leather or python. The white shirt itself was extended into a floor-length dress, like the most pristine housecoat you could imagine. A shorter version was reined in tight by a miniskirt in white python, like an extravagant hip-slung cummerbund.
The scion of naval tailors, Barrett is the most intensely disciplined of designers. Here, a tightly edited handful of silhouettes was reproduced in white, black, silver and gold Lurex, black leather, and python (both real and as a print on leather, lasered to provide a properly serpentine texture). It made for a cool, tough collection as cold as the marble sculptures the designer was inspired by. It makes you wonder whether there is a big softy somewhere inside Barrett, just clamoring to get out. It would be interesting to meet that person.