Duckie Brown SS13: Blue Collars,Tough Pleasures
The Duckies said they were in a ‘tougher, laddish mood’ this season and the bleached denim looks which opened their Duckie Pleasures show in New York on Thursday, confirmed this. Bleached workwear jackets paired with matching jeans had a English post-punk sensibility, and model faces, familiar from London, added an authentic sense of toughness. The workwear jackets led to a more familiar jean jacket in dark denim. In some looks, models wore leather belt loops, draped over both shoulders, as if in preparation for some arcane form of saddlery.
It’s a sign of the Duckies’ maturity that they are so good at pacing. You always know that at some point, the tempo will shift, and sublime colours and shapes will emerge, like with the hook of a great tune. Last S/S it came with the bruised floral prints, this time it was the tartans and some delicious ice cream tones that stepped up the pleasure.
This sense of movement and rhythm wasn’t only about the pacing, as some of the pieces themselves had real swing to them, especially the interpretations of their now signature wide leg pants . When I interviewed them last year, Steven commented that “Charlie Chaplin is always in there”, i.e. as an influence in what they do, and that is really visible here, in the exaggerated outline of the pants. There is something theatrical about them, not in a cringe-inducing jazz hands sense, but as clothes that seem to inspire and emphasise movement, with the elegance of a dancer, or just with a great walk (and I don’t mean a Chaplin waddle). Wide sleeved T-shirts and something called a passport cuff (basically a huge, deep turn-up, presumably so-called because you could fit your passport in it) showed the designers are still interested in the exploration of form.
Duckie Brown’s ongoing Florsheim shoes partnership allows them to deliver the whole package, a whole vision, and the lovely cream leather shoes were more evidence of their particular skill with a summer palette. The write up of their accompanying Florsheim shoes collection mentions they were inspired by a run-in with some skater boys during a recent trip to London, particularly in the use of colour. Appropriately enough, after the show, models, some still with slicked hair in place, sped off into the Meatpacking streets on what else, but their skateboards.
At it’s core this Duckie collection has a definite blue-collar toughness, but as ever with Duckie, that isn’t enough, and the backless tuxes and ruffles showed they are still game to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in menswear, nudging the edges of fantasy male couture.
Such a tough-centred collection deserves a straightforward assessment, and for me the most wearable, exciting pieces were those wide trousers, especially the cream herringbone and the charcoal check, and also the tartan and denim harrington jackets.
Having thus reminded New York of who they are as Duckie Brown in their signature line, the stage is all set for their new role as re-inventors of Perry Ellis come Tuesday.