LFW Menswear Day SS12 reviews #1, E.Tautz

“I don’t need to KNOW what the suits are made of”, commented one female (presumed) journalist on the stairs above The Lincoln Room, deep within The Savoy Hotel, “Well I do, replied her colleague, “I have to write about this stuff!”. Given you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that as men we really do care about what we wear, and whilst certain quarters of the fashion press still think of men’s fashion needs in the third person, with men to be passively shopped ‘for’ and ‘kept on trend’, luckily the greater part of the audience for the E.Tautz presentation on Wednesday looked to be much more like minded, or at least shared an expectation that we were about to see beautiful menswear and to be educated about it by Patrick Grant.

You’ve probably already read soundbites from Patrick’s introduction to the collection online, so I’m going to focus on the clothes here, as much as possible, though as ever, the setting, tone and Patrick’s presentation skills (a front row Holly Johnson was certainly looking rapt!) are difficult not to be distracted by. One of the things I love about Patrick’s presentations is how he always starts out by stressing that E.Tautz is about simplicity. A lot is said about simplicity in menswear. But what I understand Patrick to mean in terms of E.Tautz is the comparative lack of fuss and embellishment: menswear cut simply, but made from the highest quality materials.

As per my highlights pick yesterday, it was the athletics-wear meets tailoring theme that struck me most in this collection and if I had to choose a single piece, it would be the flannel athletics-pants which for me summed up the idea of the impromptu 20s elegance of Felix Caravajal, the Cuban postman-cum-athlete and his Olympic contemporaries who inspired SS12. Sportswear comes and goes as an influence in menswear but is riding high for SS12.  The written press notes accompanying the collection talk about Patrick’s having being inspired by photographs of athletes in the 20s when sportsmen, through necessity, wore a combination of items designed for playing sport in with whatever tailored items and knitwear they had to hand. I like this suggestion of a time before shrink-wrapped 100% nylon sportswear became just another vehicle for advertising. And of course, what we saw at E.Tautz was a gloriously haute version of athletics-wear.

Some highlights from the collection

A couple of views of those athletics-pants, worn initially with a cashmere hand-intarsia sweatshirt and nylon parka and then with a matching tailored jacket.

I loved this T-shirt and athletics-pant combination, unexpectedly casual from E.Tautz. As ever, the quality and detail make them exceptional, with the cobalt of the pocket and the use of linen in a powder blue for the pant really drawing the eye.Knitwear is always a highlight of E.Tautz collections, and SS12 didn’t disappoint, this inky navy oversized linen crew neck jumper is a genius mix of bulk with a cooling natural material.

As I recently reported from New York, shorts and and an unstructured blazer is a pairing I think will be really evident in SS12, a smart but wearable version of the shorts suit. Shorts are becoming increasingly acceptable as daytime formal wear, here with double pleats and a perfect, unstructured linen and silk DB jacket.

In a break from tradition, the presentation also included a taster of the Pre-Fall 2012 collection. This felt a particular treat, it’s always a challenge to feel excited about shorts and summerwear in mid-September, just as the chill in the air is starting to bite.

This time the sweater is lambswool and Naval in style.  I love the combination with the button-down in a less inky navy blue.

Again, what I particularly liked about this coat was the colour, more startlingly blue than the average dark navy serge peacoat.

I wasn’t going to gush about the setting, but The Savoy was a spectacular location for this presentation and I confess to feeling a bit like a chimney sweep let loose amidst unimaginable luxury, with the urge to reach out and touch every surface.

In much the same way, as I’ve said previously, its the tactile experience of touching the clothes that makes you understand what makes an E.Tautz collection so special, and I encourage you to seek them out and have a good feel.

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