Friday, 26 February 2010

LFW: E. Tautz AW10

As well as showcasing the AW10 collections of established designers and providing a platform for emerging talent, Menswear Day reacquainted us with a few sleeping giants of Savile Row. Hardy Amies and Gieves and Hawkes emerged from their slumber and joined the brand that is bridging the past and present greatness of London's most famous street, E. Tautz, in an exhibition of exquisitely tailored solidarity.

Ever since I first learned about the resurrection of E. Tautz I have been a strong supporter of Patrick Grant's vision for the historic sporting and military tailors. I need only the smallest excuse to marvel over the quality of the designs and the luxury of the cloths and wools used. E. Tautz is a label which champions the notion of dressing properly and of men taking pride in what they wear. For AW10 Churchill's favourite tailor does not disappoint as it keeps one foot in the arena of British sportswear and one well polished toe in the military camp.

The collection references the heavy knits and precisely cut double breasted coats of Lean’s Naval masterpiece In Which We Serve (1942). I'm not sure whether or not you've seen the film but I recall watching it one Sunday afternoon on BBc2 feeling a little sorry for myself the morning after the night before. The film is more than a story told for propaganda effect about naval heroism based on Mountbatten's wartime experiences. As Barry Norman once put it: "Aboard Coward's fictional HMS Torrin there existed forties British society in microcosm. Here everybody knew his place... The one thing they all had in common was the knowledge that each of them, high or low, was expected to show unswerving loyalty and devotion to duty". The collections standout is that beautifully long naval coat.

At the heart of the E. Tautz collection is Savile Row cutting; elegant shoulders, suppressed waist, well proportioned, well balanced and unfussy in keeping with the sporting and military traditions. The collection borrows heavily from the Hebridean Islands. A Lewis fisherman’s jumper re-made in the heaviest eight ply cashmere. A giant glen check is hand woven in northerly Ness but in a softer Shetland yarn. Exploded herringbones made wonderfully tactile by the softest yarn. Harris Tweeds in a design unearthed in the back of a Stornoway cupboard and brought to life with a pop of colour. Bold glen checks and unusual tweeds lend a sporting slant and remind us that E. Tautz showcases cloths unavailable anywhere else on the ready to wear market. For this collection they've worked with some great weavers in the Scottish Isles, to create some outstanding new cloths.

During the show itself, with more than a touching nod to the past, Grant gave a commentary as the models appeared, explaining what they were wearing and where the clothes were made. After speaking to Patrick back in March I was taken by his belief that provenance is key. On the relaunch of the label for AW09 he had built up a strong network of local supplies. Aside from the sweaters which were knitted in Shetland, everything else could be picked up by bicycle. The British facet of the brand is certainly not a gimmick because Patrick and his team are striving for the best. It is refreshing to hear that brands do not need to scour the earth for the best, sometimes it can be found or even nurtured on ones doorstep. Savile Row is at the heart of everything that E. Tautz does. The timeless, simple elegance of the cut, and the relentless pursuit of the highest standards of make. With the seemingly constant emergence of new design talent and the continued evolution of the giants on Savile Row, the future of London Menswear is an exciting prospect indeed.

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