James Long presented another successful menswear collection for Autumn/Winter 2013 that was inspired by, amongst other themes, the films of John Waters. Prints of singer/actor/performer/drag queen Divine and of pink flamingos featured in knitwear while a certain teenage rockabilly-cum-grunge rebellious attitude to life was suggested in the leather and wool jackets and in the rubberised pleated trousers that were elasticated at the ankle, revealing a fusion of conventional menswear, varsity designs and casual sportswear.
An autumnal dark palette comprised shades of brown, camel, ochre, mustard, maroon, grey and black in slicked fabrics and plastics, wool and leather. Although Long has been renowned for his knitwear pieces, the collection’s cardigans and crew-neck jumpers with mixed textures and metallic threads were not the strongest that we have seen over the years. Instead, Long’s focus seemed to be on the exploration of the symbolism of pattern and on a varied range of outerwear that featured quilted leather gilets, bomber jackets, oversized coats with raglan sleeves and metallic parkas cinched at the waist by drawstrings.
At some stage, the collection’s styling seemed to suffer from an exaggerated eclecticism, making the audience wonder if the runway show mightn’t have benefitted from some focus and toning down. Although James Long’s talent was present throughout in every garment, the density of colours, textures and patterns entailed having to make an extra effort to examine the looks and appreciate the quality of garments on display. If there was little doubt that the multifarious spirit of John Waters was present in this riot of combinations, the general feeling was that we will have to wait for Long’s next fashion display to revel in the sartorial aptitude to which he got his critics and buyers used to.