Having been talked through Lou Dalton's design process and inspirations for AW12 my appetite for the show was certainly whet. In fact, I would say that I was positively starving as I waited for hearty sartorial feast that she'd serve up of Menswear Day. Thankfully, the presentation did not disappoint. The Portico Rooms transported the audience to her reimagined 1940s Britain and we all fell head over Dr Martens boot heel for Lou Dalton's wartime love affair. Each season, Lou Dalton crafts well tailored, rebellious English sportswear for her working class souls. There is always a narrative, from the miners strikes of the 80s to the Russian mafia and Wuthering Heights' Heathcliff, various influences combine that all lend themselves to the continuation of her sartorial fascination with working class heroes. For AW12, Dalton found inspiration in a simple wartime love story. Drawing on Shelagh Delaney's genre revolutionising kitchen sink play, 'A Taste of Honey' and her own childhood spent largely growing up on her Grandmother's farm in Shropshire, the design talent narrated and outfitted her own tale of star crossed love. We were all seduced.
Inspired by the styling and rawness of Tony Richardson's 1961 adaptation of Delaney's play and the aesthetic of the iconic 'My Private Idaho', Dalton began to create this story in her head about a GI falling in love with a land girl and not wanting to go back to war, he goes AWOL and lives a very different life with his new love. "His wardrobe is a mix of her father's country wardrobe and his own military garb, the textures and layers combine to help hide his identity. I was fascinated with this idea of layering," Dalton excitedly blurted out in her studio. The protagonist's style draws on facets of both military and country garments and reflects a begged and borrowed wardrobe assembled to withstand and camouflage him in his new life. A heady cocktail of heavy military cloth mixed with hand knit cables, work wear programmes and Dalton's now signature quilted pieces combine to provide each ensemble with contrasting layers of texture, colour and feel. With this particular collection there is a formal feel to it and she's used special, almost decadent pieces of cloth from Bulmer and Lumb but she wanted there to be a casual feel to it that feeds in to this country aesthetic. Casual silhouettes, washed and distressed chinos and denim further capture the spirit of this cross pollination. Before the tale unfolded in the show space, I nipped backstage to take a few shots as the final adjustments were applied by stylist John McCarty and his team with Dalton watching on, orchestrating the last minute adjustments. I happily snapped away as hats by Bernstock Speirs were played with and then delicately placed, socks by Tabio were pulled up and encased in Dr Martens boots and hair was finished off...
Backstage at the Portico Rooms as Lou Dalton's men were styled for AW12
Hopefully my backstage imagery captures Lou Dalton's story of war torn lovesick soldiers. I've certainly fallen for the collection all all over again. I'm particularly pining for the biker jacket is Harris Tweed. Once again, Dalton has provided a number of new crushes for the season.