Walking down the stairs and into The Vaults at the RSA House, you’d be forgiven for thinking you may have fallen down the rabbit hole and wandered into an eccentric wonderland. Arched nooks were filled with an eclectic mix of painting equipment and brightly coloured silk neck ties, while plates full of melt-in-the-mouth macarons were politely poised under the nose immediately upon arrival. After eyes had taken a few moments to adjust to the darkened surroundings, the most exquisite blazers boasting statement prints and quirky detailing attracted attention immediately....and you’d realised you’d entered the wondrous world of Turnbull & Asser.
Celebrating its 130th year and boasting a Royal Warrant courtesy of Prince Charles, this is a brand that successfully bridges the beauty of creativity with brains and brawn that result in the finest quality, expertly tailored garments. Each of its sought-after bespoke shirts are made in England using 33 individual pattern pieces and 13 mother-of-pearl buttons; and its this eye for detail that’s attracted a superior clientele such as Winston Churchill, President Ronald Regan, and even James Bond himself. However, next season it’s its artistic acquaintances, which have included the likes of Pablo Picasso and David Hockney, that may be more relevant.
Exploring the juxtaposition between ‘The Artist’ and ‘The Architect’ using colour, form, pattern and texture, Turnbull & Asser’s A/W 2016 collection cavorted between rigid checks in monochrome palettes to vibrant explosions of blues, pinks, purples, reds and golds in playful designs. Think blazers adorned with seemingly hand-drawn squiggles skipping over blue and white stripes, or the embroidered tiny white outline of a forearm and upturned palm repeated thousands of times until it was only recognisable upon very close inspection. Inspired by literature including George Orwell’s 1984 and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this was a collection that reexamined boundaries and explored contrasts without losing sight of the standards and taste the brand is renowned for.
Beyond the wooden mannequins and busts, some of which held paint brushes and palettes, the key area of the presentation was worth navigating through the suavest of crowds for. The stage was split into the two conflicting worlds; to the left, the laid-back avant-garde artists gathered nonchalantly, chatting around an easel draped in a red silk scarf, while to the right, business-like architects huddled around a desk, flicking through paperwork in a self-assured manner. Their uniforms went from red and tan coloured chinos paired with checked blazers and jackets, to pristine grey suits with a dash of character thanks to the likes of a printed waistcoat.
With posters taped to the walls that took a tongue-in-cheek view on conformity with headlines such as ‘Stay Vigilant There are Artists Among Us’, this collection sought to encourage the customer to throw a little caution to the wind, and embrace their personality in the wardrobe they choose. Whether you go all out and opt for a blazer covered in a mosaic-like embroidery that evokes the works of Klimt, or a grey suit with a dash of red thanks to a silk tie subtly illustrating London’s skyline, it’ll be easy to express yourself next season from the array of stylish pieces on offer at Turnbull & Asser.
Words: Helen Lovett | Fashion Week Press | @mustardyellowshoes
Images: Mel Williams | Fashion Week Photographer