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No London Fashion Week is complete without a visit to the peerless Showroom Next Door. Run with charming hospitality and a killer eye for beautiful, individual clothing by the Dover Street Market-connected Touba Distribution. The selections available during the most recent Fashion Week, in February were particularly strong. Now in a new location, though still within refined Mayfair, a visit to the Showroom combines the exclusivity of a salon with the informality of the best of boutique shopping.
By the time I got there on Menswear Day, the racks had been well thumbed by fashion editors and bloggers alike, what follows is a personal pick through the 3 collections I found particularly strong.
I’ve been a fan and collector of Casely-Hayford since before the line lost the initial ‘Joe’ and became a family concern, and still have a couple of much prized ‘Joe Casely-Hayford‘ pieces in my bottom drawer.
This was a particularly strong collection. My eye fell immediately on the glorious red corduroy jacket with leather-edged sleeves, the moleskin/sheepskin coats and an exquisite pleated hopsack suit in navy.
The waxed cotton trainers were a real temptation, the Barbour-esque detailing complete down to the corduroy pull tab at the ankle. Displayed alongside, were iconic shoes and boots by the legendary John Moore, a colleague and collaborator of the late, great Christopher Nemeth. His shoes sat so perfectly alongside the Casely-Hayford pieces here they could be mistaken for being part of the collection. Moore, Nemeth and Casely-Hayford all share an aesthetic rich with a sense of English history and eccentricity.
I’m a huge fine knitwear fan, and the cashmere pieces by Belgian-label Chauncey sent me into strokable heaven. The colour options of the sweaters were incredible and precise: another vibrant red, the essential English mustard and a certain beige containing a serious element of pink, that I’m seeing a lot of. The detailing of the neckline is unique, a cupid bow depression adding shape and character to the neck area. I’ll let the photos do the talking and re. the quality and texture of the fine cashmere, but if you’re a fan of this luxury yarn I guarantee you would be impressed by Chauncey’s exquisite woolens. I was told by our charming assistant that the knitted hats (in the AW11 essential; the roll-able fisherman’s hat with cable detail and an alternative shape with fancier, under-the-chin ties) are all hand knitted in France. This instantly gave me visions of elderly ladies knitting away in some lost-in-time French village, expert hands manipulating the luxury wool to create ultimate quality.
I’m equally a huge shoe fan, and have to admit that my eyes made contact with the Armando Cabral brogues with trainer soles literally within seconds of entering The Showroom. To my mind, they offer a more wearable version of the SS10 Prada raised brogue platforms with espadrille edging that every fashion editor seems to be wearing currently. Trevor’s talk through of the collection (you may already know that Cabral is a catwalk model who’s turned his hand to designing fine shoes) with its focus on fine leathers and sturdy soles did much to convince me. The pebbled-leather Oxfords in navy, bottle-green, red and black with red brick soles had me tempted, but it was the black brogue with the hardy Vibram trainer sole I’d originally spotted that I found myself ordering.
Elsewhere, Mr Hare‘s beautiful pebbled-leather Oxfords in rich tan and the sheepskin lined biker boots impressed, a perfect blend of the tactile and ruggedly practical, you just know these boots would be a joy to wear in next winter’s inevitable slush.
I have to say that I’m looking forward to visiting The Showroom Next Door in September almost as much as Menswear Day itself, the selections this season being so attuned to what I enjoy and appreciate most in menswear. The Showroom also presents an opportunity to escape the clamor of Menswear Day at Somerset House for something a little more private. Needless to say, I’m also very excited about the arrival of my Cabral trainer brogues in August.