LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – The show notes at Richard James promised a roller coaster ride — inpired by a proper Boy’s Own story, the little-known tale of however a bunch of nineteenth century British engineers voyaged to Chile to make the groundbreaking Trans-Andean line.
It was the type of origin story which may be expected from exploration-loving designers like Nigel Cabourn or Christopher Raeburn, instead of Richard James — though it’s worth remembering at once, a few years past, he launched into an adventure of his own; one targeted on tailoring rather than engineering, and on transfer a brand new lease of life to a Savile Row that appeared, at the time, to be tottering stubborny on its last legs.
Today’s adventures were for the most part confined to color palette — to tailoring executed in earthy shades of terracotta, bronze and stone, to accents of vivid fuchsia and yellow, and to overclothes steeped in electrical blues and rich chocolates. The fabrications matched the collection’s sturdy mood, with hefty sheepskins and thick flannels in abundance. The peasant-inspired shawls, hats and knee boots were a few touches too far towards the literal — but when James kept the accents easy and believable, like Aztec-graphic sweaters or micro-print shirts, he was on his usual solid ground.