Richard James Spring/Summer 2016 Menswear
“We like an eccentric Englishman abroad,” said Toby Lamb, who designed this collection because Richard James himself is still on sabbatical. Lamb explained his choice of the poet and surrealist Edward James as the main inspiration for the brand’s Spring offering: In particular it was his wacky creation Las Pozas—a series of concrete structures built between 1949 and 1984 in the jungle of Mexico’s Sierra Madre—that had piqued the interest of the design team. Cue loads of emerald green (the collection was called My Green Trauma) and full-floral suits—meaning suit, shirt, tie, and loafers in the same somewhat sense-assaulting pattern. If Richard James is known as the go-to brand for colorful tailoring, this was an unapologetic embrace of that reputation.
Jungle flowers, plumed parrots, and the weird concrete staircases leading into thin air that Edward James built resurfaced on many pieces, while a suede jacket came in a piercing red or petrol blue. These were clothes ready to induce a heart attack. And yet there was something oddly unmodern about it all. The team had put more tailoring on the catwalk than usual this time, and even though the label is just a few years into its 20s, it sometimes veers into mature-man-in-search-of-the-fountain-of-youth territory. In a menswear landscape bouncing from the ultra-slim to the extra-wide, Richard James’ middle-of-the-road shapes come across as a bit safe, and expressions of daring seem relegated to color only. It would be interesting to see such expert craftsmanship apply itself to introducing some novel ideas here, without giving up the brand’s identity.