Monday, 31 December 2012

Inspired... Lou Dalton AW13

Since launching her own line in 2005, Lou Dalton has refined a well crafted reputation for rebellious English sportswear with a keen eye for and attention to detail whilst establishing herself as the real shining starlet of British Menswear. As London menswear has demanded an ever increasing presence at LFW and respect far beyond the perimeter of the capital, evolving from an afternoon in to three full days of shows, presentations, previews, installations and exhibitions under the umbrella of London Collections: Men, Dalton has matured in the spotlight, built a brand and helped pave the way forward. 

One week today, all eyes will be on the blossoming design talent once more as she opens the sophomore edition of London Collections: Men. Having had a sneak preview of the collection which includes an exciting shoe collaboration, tactile knitwear and soft tailoring to obsess over and further evolved signatures,  I'm certain she will take more confident and assured steps forward, beckoning the rest of London menswear to do the same. As a little teaser to what Dalton will unveil in seven days, we sit down with the designer to talk through the narrative and influences behind the season. Sitting in her East London studio I was quickly transported six hundred odd miles to the coastlines of Shetland as the designer excitedly talked me through her mood board. Escape with us...

"This season I returned to one of my favourite films, Local Hero. I had watched it a while back but shortly after showing Spring/Summer 2013, my partner Justin was away and I rummaged through all of my old DVDs and found it again along with Ryan's Daughter. I have referenced Ryan Daughter to a small extent, there's just one scene from the film where the freedom fighters are on the beaches pulling in the illegal arms and they're wearing these oil skins in the pouring rain and I was drawn to the scene's rawness and how dark it was, in particular the Irish terrain and the backdrop that it is set against. The small village that the film is set shares characteristics to that of Shetland as captured in Bill Forsyth's feature. For me, Local Hero is one of the best films that I've ever seen, set in a place that I have such fond personal memories of. I met Justin in Shetland over nine years ago and I spent three years commuting back and forth from the area during the early years of our relationship. It it is quite simply one of the most amazing places that I've been to. I think Laurence Ellis' film (that he shot for my autumn/winter 2010 collection) captures the essence of how Shetland is, it's this open, amazing, wild place but it is so warm and welcoming. I absolutely loved spending time there and I have this crazy dream of owning a croft at some point. It will always be an inspiring place to me.

When I watched Local Hero again with Burt Lancaster playing a Texan oil worker who goes out to this rural town in the Scottish highlands with the desire to build a whopping big oil rig but soon falls in love with the special place. Theoretically, that's what happened to Shetland. At one point, it was the biggest oil port in Europe. I latched on to this development in a sense but it had much more to do with the characters, the terrain, the rawness and everything about the area. I loved everything about the film and it reminded me about my own experiences. I started pulling references from there, from utility and work wear after looking at the boy on the rig, the city boy in the country feel influenced the tailoring and there's a particular fabric that we've pulled from an Italian mill that reminds me of the flock and rawness of the sheep whilst the knitwear takes inspiration from the identification markings on the sheep which has this form of branding. 

I know that when I talk about being inspired by Shetland, people will think "oh, this is Lou being right country, a heritage feel' and there might be an element of that but once you see the collection, you'll see that there's much more to it than that. This particular collection feels even more personal whilst the fit and shapes are very much from spring/summer. I want the guy that is buying Lou Dalton to feel confident and trust in the continuation from season to season..."

Lou Dalton_AW13_Local Hero - Movie Poster
Lou Dalton_AW13_Ryan's Daughter_Storm
Snapshots of Lou Dalton's mood board for AW13.

"I do feel the pressure of showing first (at London Collections: Men). Everyone has been so supportive and I never do anything half heartedly. This collection means an awful lot and there's shedloads of work still to do. I won't settle until it is all done, to the level that I want it to be at. I said it to Charlie Porter previously but if I could get the label the point of being a self financed menswear designer from the UK that can compete with those big boys then that would be a massive achievement. It's unchartered territory. I think the label is at the point at which it could soar to the next level or stagnate and I desperately want it to fly on. I feel as though I've pushed myself harder than ever for this collection and we've also been pushing at the same time with production of Spring/Summer 13 which was the largest that it has ever been. It'll be quite special if I pull everything off."

I have every confidence that she will. Long may London menswear follow the lead of Lou Dalton. Here's to London Collections: Men and beyond.


Jason Kryptonite said...

I love this!

Chris Burkmenn said...

Very cool site!!! Thank you for being up and running!! I like your articles!!

Karo said...

Love you website. Inspiring!



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