Duchamp London And The Sophisticated Return of Soft Tailoring By Troy Alexander
Duchamp London hosted their AW15 presentation in the refined Scarfes bar lounge in the spectacular Rosewood London Hotel, offering fine whiskies and cocktails with sensational sexiness. The smashing venue has become the place to be seen and to dine with London’s fashionable elite.
Colour and fabric innovation were at the forefront of this collection while playing on the subtleties of the menswear aesthetic using masculine colours. My two important takeaways: soft tailoring and evening wear.
The collection bought classic menswear staples to life through innovative use of geometric prints and weaves that formed a subtle three-dimensional effect throughout. Using exclusively printed luxury English silk and Italian velvet dinner jackets, the presentation created an air of true opulence.
Navy tonal silk blazers and refined shirts created contemporary geometric shapes that in turn created a cohesive texture across the collection. Suits layered with coats in oversized gallis checks, hound tooth and block-coloured wool, and cashmere in camel, sea blue, forest green and monochrome.
I sat down with creative director Gianni Colarossi after his presentation and he shared with me his secrets to style success….
Tell us about the details we might find on the construction of your garments. How do they give a nod to British heritage?
The construction of a garment is very important, especially in tailoring. Our pieces are half canvassed and the fabrics used are English, Scottish and Italian. It’s great to use British cloth; they have a very distinct handle that can’t be replicated elsewhere. Our tailoring has a nod to both Italian and English. The neat soft shoulder and high armhole is very Italian, the slim silhouette on the sleeve and front shaping is more British. I started tailoring in Italy as an apprentice to Italo di Preta, the honorary president of the Italian Academy of Tailors, but in more recent years I’ve been working in London so I have both influences.
What do you think it is about Duchamp that allows the brand to become so familiar, and to be enjoyed by people with repeated use?
The brand has evolved immensely over the past few years; we are obsessed with fabric innovation. It’s this exclusivity that keeps our customer excited and eager to come back for the new things we create. As we have changed, the brand has become more current and in turn we have become more desirable.
How did you get your start in the fashion industry and what to you is a marker of good clothes?
I studied Art and Languages, which steered me in the path of fashion. I was lucky enough to work with Di Preta in Florence, which ultimately helped me to choose this career path. Even though I’m more involved on the design side, to have an understanding of the technical side of clothing is very beneficial. I always check how things are made; quality is something I look for in a purchase.
What’s next strategically for Duchamp and how would you describe your core strategy for staying innovative in this intense market?
As you say, it’s an incredibly intense and competitive market. All we can do is concentrate on what we are doing. We have brilliant relationships with the mills we use and this allows us to be experimental and innovative in the fabrics we produce. Fashion is ever-evolving and incredibly fast-paced. We have to make sure we never stand still and always push ahead with innovation. Wholesale and retail are incredibly tough challenges, but we are working well on both channels. We would love to have a bigger presence in our retail division but first, we want to invest heavily in our e-commerce business, as this is the easiest access to the brand.
Talk me through your design process….from start to finish?
To put it in its simplest form, it starts with inspiration that can come from anywhere – a film, a book, a work of art, vintage clothing or swatches of fabric….the collection starts to grow. Colour palettes evolve with pattern and print. Silhouettes and shapes run alongside these ideas. As things take shape, fabric development takes over. This is where I go to Italy or to the mills we use in the United Kingdom to develop the ideas into cloth. It’s a very laborious process, but one I enjoy immensely.