Upon walking up the steps of the Hellenic Centre, an elegant Marylebone mansion, delicious smells wafted out to greet us. Turning right into a small room, following our noses, we discovered the source of the enticing smells - Bouillabaisse, an up and coming Mayfair restaurant, were putting on coastal cuisine to accompany our perusal of the Belstaff’s SS16 collection.
Moving through to a balcony, groups stood eating, drinking and taking about the collection, named Beauty of Power, which spread out below them in The Great Hall. Almost as though washed ashore, models with salt-sprayed hair were stranded on islands throughout the room against piles of sand and pebbles, framed by a rolling, turgid ocean which ebbed around the walls.
Inspired by the beauty which manifests in power, the collection nods to force of both manmade and natural sources, namely Belstaff’s motorcycle and military heritage and the strength of the sea. This is reflected in every aspect of the clothes.
The colour palette is beachy; think mottled prints in bleached white driftwood, golden sand, dark seaweed and, of course, the ever changing blues and greens of the water. Faded khakis and olives pull in the military theme, accompanied by buckles and belts.
The range is incredibly tactile; wandering through the models it is hard to resist reaching out to touch. Supple leather and suede sit next to luxurious quilting and fluid organza and silk, contrasting similarly to the conflicting ways in which the collection’s inspirations source their power. This juxtaposition appears again in the reinvention of classic Belstaff silhouettes; their rider’s coat and four-pocket jacket, traditionally heavy and defensive, are remade in lighter fabrics, becoming more feminine.
In what seems to be a recurring theme of SS16, the Belstaff collection explores the soft yet strong female through the contrasting nature of power in its different forms.
Belstaff’s woman is serene and feminine, yet still a force to be reckoned with, channelling military strength and the unpredictability of the sea. Designer Ninous’ second main collection for the brand, it still embodies the tradition and heritage of its rich history, but is modernising and evolving through innovative design and technique.