Pringle of Scotland Spring 2017 Menswear
“I wanted to give Pringle a room with a view,” said Pringle of Scotland’s head of design, Massimo Nicosia. He said it against the blazing sunshine of Florence, and below a frescoed ceiling (one of many) in the Palazzo Aldobrandini, a 16th-century mansion that’s played host to popes and looks out spectacularly on the Medici Chapels. So Nicosia got his wish.
Showing as part of Pitti Immagine frequently permits designers license to thrill with their venue choices. For Nicosia, however, the conversation between Britain and Florence was important: He was looking at A Room With a View—the Merchant Ivory film, rather than the E. M. Forster book, which made him ally 1908 with 1980s for Spring 2017. Add a few screen grabs of Daniel Day-Lewis looking dashing in sepia-toned tailoring and it all ties very neatly into justification for a collection that crossbred Edwardian dandyism (boating stripes, silky trenchcoats) with the sharp graphics characteristic of ’80s English style bibles like The Face and i-D. That notion came across in bright color contrasts, in combinations of argyles and punchy Neville Brody–ish slashes of color, a series of sweaters with intarsia “pins” knitted into the chest, and a fondness for Morrissey. Gladioli-embroidered jeans, anyone?
Where it perhaps doesn’t come across so well is in the lookbook pictures, shot instead of staging a formal runway show (something of a trend this season). The detail gets somewhat lost. Nicosia showed a portfolio of atmospheric images that resembled lost Smiths album covers that far better conveyed his theme. But actually, where the collection worked best was on the rail—specifically, when the rail was honed down to knitwear. The glad-clad jeans will be restricted to Mozza impersonators only, and while the dandy tailoring was fine, others do it better.
What Pringle does best is knit—here, crunchy cotton and cotton-silk mixes stood in for, say, Morrissey’s sweltering Shetland wool, and featherweight sweaters were knitted to be entirely seamless and to feel as soft and supple as a T-shirt. Ironically, considering the focus on the view, it was only when you got your hands on the pieces, felt the weight and texture, that they really sang. “I wanted something that feels honest for Pringle,” says Nicosia. While you understand his urge to build a range and show Pringle’s credentials as a fashion label, not just a knitwear go-to, it was the sweaters that stole the (non) show. No surprise: Pringle’s been doing them since 1815 and is one of the world’s leaders. If it’s honesty we’re after, those should be the focus. Play to your strengths.