Spencer Hart Menswear Spring/Summer 2013

The hubris of unfortunate location for a runway show struck Spencer Hart in a harshly symbolical way that, ultimately, ended up mirroring the brand’s disappointing proposal of garments for Spring/Summer 2013. In other words, as guests took their seats to witness the label’s latest menswear collection in the damp and dirty environs of the Old Selfridges Hotel, a collective chilling premonition was felt. This was not a reaction to the lack of fresh air inside the derelict building site but a fearful forewarning of the unpreparedness of Nick Hart’s sartorial display that was to unravel over the next few minutes.

In spite of the ambition to join the calendar of the inaugural London Men’s Fashion Week and confirm his status as one of the most influential tailors and designers in the British capital a decade after the inception of the brand, Hart’s collection suffered from wanting to try too hard to please his audience. The mood was supposed to be influenced by the exciting and vibrant urban subcultures and individuals or groups such as the Rat Pack, Miles Davis, the Black Panthers, David Bowie, and the British Jazz-Funk Soul scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, the melange of influences was confusingly juxtaposed against the background of a sponsored champagne reception, a performance by a group of dancers, and a display of celebrity endorsement (that included David Gandy on the front row, and Lawrence Dallaglio and Benedict Cumberbatch taking to the runway).

As far as the garments were considered, and in spite of a few elegantly tailored suits and attractive black short-sleeved bib shirts, Hart attempted to mix traditional sartorial forms with more creative details such as multi-layered pockets, patch pockets and buttoned side straps on jackets, and utility pockets in the back of trousers. However, this eclectic approach failed to work when the back of tight-fitting jackets stood out in an unflattering manner over the excessive fabric of trouser pockets, when waist lines were virtually destroyed by oversized front patch pockets, or when crinkled fabrics were combined with crisp wool. Furthermore, it was highly disappointing to notice the lack of attention to detail on the runway, which included clothes that had not been steamed or ironed, chalk stains on garments, or the leftovers of masking tape with notes for the models.

The Style Examiner believes that this might have been a reasonably successful collection if Spencer Hart’s team had focused on choosing the right venue and on editing the runway looks carefully instead of investing in theatrical fireworks and celebrity sightings. Our guess is that Hart’s audiences will have to wait until the next runway or presentation display to investigate if any lessons have been learnt. Hopefully, the venue will be clean and air-conditioned, and the centre of attention will be the designs and not the celebrities.