There was a sense of nostalgic euphoria when Pringle of Scotland unveiled its menswear collection for Spring/Summer 2013 at a runway show during the most recent London Collections: Men. Not only was this the last collection ever to be designed by Alistair Carr for the label, but it was also a successful display of delicate and elegant garments that reinterpreted staple menswear in a restrained and sophisticated way that will raise the bar for the interim design team that has taken over until a permanent designer is appointed.Silhouettes were overall boxier and modern (suggesting that Carr learnt his fashion history lessons during his stint at Balenciaga and also found some inspiration in 1990s tailoring) but also incorporated details from contemporary casual clothing and sportswear. To this end, bomber and biker jacket shapes, zip-off sleeves, parkas, and digitally altered camouflage patterns mixed with panelled trousers that evoked utility wear. However, this touch of relaxed fashion only stressed the outstanding knitwear that Carr has developed for Pringle of Scotland as a way to keep the brand’s reputation as purveyors of fine knits. Inspired by an historical archive that dates as far back as 1815, Carr designed enlarged and abstract versions of the Pringle diamond check, played with the volumetric scales of honeycomb textures, and added an elegant male twinset with a polo collar in shades of grey and faded salmon. Mirroring the concept of fusing heritage fashion with contemporary urban imagery, the colour palette mixed terracotta, beige and white with dashes of cobalt, petroleum, yellow and tangerine.
This was a runway show that served as Alastair Carr’s farewell as the designer who brought stylish ingenuity back into Pringle of Scotland and who proved that, nearly two hundred years from its inception, the label can still be renowned for producing desirable clothes for men. Whether this hitherto successful creative attitude towards interpreting sartorial heritage will be able to be implemented by Carr’s replacement remains a challenge that Pringle of Scotland needs to resolve carefully and swiftly if it is to play a significant role at the forefront of British menswear.