Owing to his lack of formal academic and professional qualifications in the field of fashion design, Richard James was not immediately accepted by all of his neighbouring business owners when he opened his bespoke tailor shop in 1992 in London’s Savile Row, the epicentre of British tailoring. However, and as a fitting way to celebrate 20 successful years since he became the first of the New Establishment or New bespoke movement of Savile Row, Richard James’s runway show to display his Spring/Summer 2013 menswear collection was welcomed by everyone as one of the highlights of the inaugural London men’s fashion week (organised under the moniker London Collections: Men in June 2012).
The show took place in the neoclassic and opulent ambiance of the Westbury Hotel’s Gallery restaurant in London’s Conduit Street to a restricted audience that included a few of the many celebrities who, over the years, have adopted Richard James’s trademark slim, modern tailoring with bold use of colour and details. The collection, entitled ‘Urban Fete’, was inspired by the colourful and playful activities that take place in British country fairs as a way for communities to come together and celebrate collective national heritage and the quirky and eccentric individual nature of English identity. To illustrate this atmosphere, models came onto the runway from behind a garden trellis decorated with flowers wearing a range of clothes where bold primary colours and floral prints featured prominently.
Fine cottons and silks were used throughout the collection, but linen and cool wool fabrics were key fabrics that could be seen in elegant and diverse pieces, from tailoring to casual wear and shirts to knitwear. Clean, neutral greys, blues and browns were offset against vivid greens and oranges that functioned as alluring accent colours. Oversized Prince of Wales checks in suits and wide candy stripes in socks and shirts added touches of playfulness that clearly appealed to the audience. Casual pieces included blousons with contrast ribbing, knits in lime and turquoise with zipped fronts, relaxed linen shirts in pastels, floral and paisley shorts, and knee-length swimming trunks in bright harlequin prints. Scarves, ties, and oversized beach hats added vivid brushes of colour, whereas flip-flops and desert boots alternated with bright evening slippers and socks encrusted with crystals.
Overall, the collection confirmed that Richard James has, most definitely, established a much deserved reputation as one of the most talented personalities in the contemporary London tailoring scene. His is a label that, in The Style Examiner’s opinion, should occupy a prominent regular slot in many London menswear fashion weeks to come.