Rag and Bone Men's Fall 2011: "How to Dress Like an Englishman"

I don’t envy Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, the designers of Rag and Bone. What do you do when heritage, your thing, is the trend of the moment? And then isn’t. Last season, their approach was to out-heritage everyone, with masses of chambray and denim, in what felt like the closeted football player on Glee constantly targeting the gay kids for abuse, aka, the lady protesting a little too much. Their solution for next fall is to go British. “English gamekeepers, stalking in Scotland and the Duke of Windsor. Exemplary demonstration of how to dress like an Englishman” read their press materials.
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I don’t envy Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, the designers of Rag and Bone. What do you do when heritage, your thing, is the trend of the moment? And then isn’t. Last season, their approach was to out-heritage everyone, with masses of chambray and denim, in what felt like the closeted football player on Glee constantly targeting the gay kids for abuse, aka, the lady protesting a little too much. Their solution for next fall is to go British. “English gamekeepers, stalking in Scotland and the Duke of Windsor. Exemplary demonstration of how to dress like an Englishman” read their press materials.
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I don’t envy Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, the designers of Rag and Bone. What do you do when heritage, your thing, is the trend of the moment? And then isn’t. Last season, their approach was to out-heritage everyone, with masses of chambray and denim, in what felt like the closeted football player on Glee constantly targeting the gay kids for abuse, aka, the lady protesting a little too much. Their solution for next fall is to go British. “English gamekeepers, stalking in Scotland and the Duke of Windsor. Exemplary demonstration of how to dress like an Englishman” read their press materials.

What followed were kilts and big 70's Scottish knits, blinding plaids, wool leggings bowlers and ultra-roomy trousers. The whole thing was appealing, and I’ll be interested to see which, if any, elements make it into their stores. But my question is why? The coherence and deft tailoring of the collection was undermined by what felt like materials fighting each other. Wool was punching up against leather. Shearling slapped leather. Leather hissed at wool. Especially as the collection devolved into predictable silly stripes and then went completely off course with an electric blue jacket (which I actually loved), I had to ask: what’s the point?

The Rag and Bone guys have great ideas, and have always, for lack of a more fashion-y expression, kept it real. Why go British? It’s like the trends gave them lemons, and instead of making lemonade, they decided to fabricate their own cola. It not that it doesn’t taste good, it’s fine, and I would never begrudge a designer worldly influence, but I want to see what Rag and Bone can mine from America, because that’s who they are. That’s why Don Draper was at their show. That’s why we love them.

**All photos: IMAXTREE