SUMMER RELOADED. During a spring/summer 2015 press presentation, Alfred Dunhill showed its daring side under John Ray’s creative direction, writes Gabriela Yosefina
Models donning the spring/summer ’15 pieces
It was early December last year when I got invited to experience Alfred Dunhill spring/summer ’15 collection in Shanghai. Upon entering Alfred Dunhill Shanghai Home, there was something noticeably different in the air. “Refreshed” and “refined” certainly came to mind, and the winter sunrays that streamed through glass windows of the 1920s neoclassical-styled villa further punctuated those impressions. In the brightly lit space the quintessential clothing pieces of summer stood on display: Exuberant prints, light layering and relaxed silhouettes imaginatively transformed the exhibit into a snappy British summer retreat.
“Escape” is the notion that Dunhill explores this season. A frequent traveler with a knack for everything eclectic, the Dunhill man is a gentleman who does not care much about mixing and matching. He nonchalantly picks his most cherished possessions and throws them into a roomy bag, before setting off for the countryside or some distant destination. This vision of escape is the brainchild of John Ray, the brand’s creative director. Formerly the brilliant mind behind Gucci’s menswear line, Ray elaborates on the idea behind the collection, “The British have an underlying respect for appropriateness. Yet, they often unwittingly get it wrong. Those mismatched details or unconventional pairings worn with a devil-may-care attitude strike me as inherently British.”
That idea was unmistakably apparent throughout the collection shown at the venue in Shanghai. Replacing the brand’s usual monochromatic ensembles were looks composed of three to four colors, mostly in muted or soft tones. There were also stripes paired with geometric prints, as well as two different textural combinations. Nevertheless, every look was easily and elegantly put together with character. It was as if the perfection in dressing is achieved through a series of orchestrated imperfections, which seems rebellious by Dunhill’s standards.
The color-blocking compositions this season
“Those mismatched details or unconventional pairings worn with a devil-may-care attitude strike me as inherently British”
A NEW ADVENTURE
This season’s offerings are marked by several breakthroughs in design. A series of swimming trunks in bright prints were the first to steal attention during the press presentation. The prints, which also appeared on the safari shirts, are apparently the very first in-house print creation of Dunhill. The motifs are taken from Victorian botanical drawings, English seaweed, magnolia buds and the markings on seashells. Appropriately, the prints are not too loud—just the right amount of panache for a grown man’s summer repertoire.
Moving on to the brand’s signature pieces—tailored jackets and suits—some unexpected twists are present this season, be it in the styling, shape or fabric. There was an evening jacket made of Italian shantung silk in the exhibit that is to be worn with a mismatched silk scarf. Meanwhile, the patterned suits went hand in hand with bold ties or patterned pocket squares. In terms of shape, the overall outerwear proportions are fittingly lengthened and more relaxed. Fabric-wise, the collection sees more adventurous uses of suede. A standout example shown was a suede driving jacket in blue with leather lining inside that ticks all the boxes of a gent’s go-to outerwear.
The Boston holdall alongside other accessories on display
In line with the idea of escape for spring/summer ’15, weekender bags became a main staple of the collection. They draw inspiration from Dunhill’s rich history of craftsmanship for designs and finishing. One fine example is the Duke bag, which replicates the shape of the brand’s traditional kit bag and now features dashes of red leather as distinctive accents. Made of double-tanned French calfskin, the bag would only get better with age and wear, as the leather will develop a certain patina. Another weekender bag at the top of the season’s must-have list is the Boston suede holdall. It is relatively bigger than the Duke yet remains a classic piece with specific leather detailing.
Additionally, Dunhill’s accessories department brings in the regulars: briefcases, wallets, belts and gadget cases. But those most sought-after pieces get an upgrade this season. Perfecting the selections are diverse color palettes, including tan, navy-blue, oxblood and olive, as well as rich material options such as suede, nylon and alligator skin. The colorful details even go further down to the socks, indicating an entirely elevated yet younger take on Dunhill’s legacy.
3 TOP LOOKS OF THE SEASON
This suede driving jacket is the perfect outerwear for spring.
The patterned suit is elevated with a patterned tie and a pocket square.
Mismatched pieces build Dunhill’s summer attire.