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Perhaps ironically, as dreams of yet another English summer dissolved into mist and drizzle, London Collections: men last weekend delivered up an endless stream of wearable summer clothing for SS13, all fit for a proper heatwave. Few collections were as beautiful as that by Baartmans and Siegel, shown on Sunday. Within minutes of arriving at the presentation in fact, I’d heard the word ‘beautiful’ mentioned several times, uttered either as an overall reaction to the clothes on show, or used in a question to me, in expectation of my agreement. But this was no gushy, fashion darling reaction, but a genuine response to one of the most cohesive and desirable collections of the whole weekend.
The relaxed sporty shapes (some grey marl sweatpants appeared, a few drawstring waistbands) were as prevalent here as in other shows across town, and transparency, delicacy and playfulness with the boundaries of acceptable colours and fabric for men’s clothing were also present in this accomplished collection, very much a credit to the designers, and in no way just a vehicle for these trends. What I now associate with the name Baartmans and Siegel, is a combination of refined elegance with a streamlined yet relaxed silhouette. Colours are also always a strong point (the bold black and royal blue of the AW12 collection for example) in this instance, cool white and pale aqua reflected (sometimes literally) the influence of Cuba and the sun-baked patina of old Havana buildings. Frosted, shimmering, pearlised fabrics and leathers used both in clothing and accessories (ultra luxe tote bags were a highlight) suggested the seashore, whilst lacy fabrics provided a delicate balance to some of the more robust fabrics and tailoring.
Part static presentation, part catwalk, fourteen looks were revolved as models lined up stood in place for a designated time and then were shunted along the platform, making way for a fresh batch of five models to appear, like the human components of an elegant machine.
In my favourite look from the collection, a sequinned semi-transparent vest top and lacy drawstring pants combination somehow evades looking too feminine because of the familiar shapes, and because their effect is somehow subtle and not ostentatious.
I loved the strong shape of this jacket, and the strong crease in the slightly boot-cut trousers here, ideal to wear in the evening as the wind whips through the streets of some racy seaport.
Each look was styled with a pair of Rivieras, the timeless summer shoe brand is a perfect match for the soft, light tailoring. Luxurious bags added the final note of glamor, and would definitely make heads turn at your local airport.
Outwear featured a pearlised shimmer, here outshone only by a mint green crocodile bag. Oversized silk scarves with a fish scale print (here) and crab claws (below) continue the aquatic theme.
The collection explored lacy transparency, playfully challenging expectations of clothes for men.
Knitwear is another Baartmans and Siegel strength, as seen in the lacy scallop detailing on this sweater and the texture of the cardigan below.
Sunday was definitely the day for beautiful clothing from the London Collections for men, Baartmans and Siegel followed Omar Kashoura in the schedule, another of my favourites, and I was yet to encounter the incredible Meadham Kirchoff presentation at Fashion East, all three collections made use of delicate fabrics and construction, far beyond the rugged, familiar materials of most men’s clothing.