March and April, though an unpredictable time of the year, is particularly exciting when it comes to new season menswear. The first hints of spring usher in a world of possibilities; for new designs, for layering, for embracing clever fabrics, textures and crucially, a fresher colour palette.
If fresh colours are your thing, then look no further than Gieves & Hawkes Spring Summer ‘17. The first collection-proper by Gieves’ new Design Director, Mark Frost, SS17 draws upon the palette of an English garden, more specifically the garden painted by John Singer Sargent in Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. ‘I’ve loved the painting for years’, explains Frost, ‘the colours and setting are wonderfully English and whimsical, when day turns to evening and the light is magical. We took our starting point for the palette from here, but it was important that even though we were working with pastels there was a masculinity and naturalness to the collection.’
Its a balance that’s been very well struck. Refined tailoring remains a central focus, but suiting offers something slightly sharper and cooler than it has hitherto. In place of conventional navy or charcoal, you’ll find sophisticated shades of royal and RAF blue or else dove grey suits cut in smooth Italian cloths which wear beautifully during the warmer months. Complimenting these sharp business-come-wedding suits, Frost has also designed a number of confident pieces in lightweight silk and linen blends, in ivory, dark pink and powder blue.
As Frost puts it, ‘its about lifting staples like navy and khaki into something more playful,’ to which end, the collection’s tailored separates are cut in sophisticated textured cloths, in rich blues and earthy neutrals. Other pieces in cream, stone, olive and even some accessories in a subtle shade of peppermint add touches of character. There’s an interesting focus on casualwear too, with some superb suede blousons (see The Jackal’s spring suede jacket edit for our favourite piece), in tan and even Campari red, as well as a tailored navy wool fresco bomber that makes a clever statement – combining the house’s technical tailoring know-how with a modern streetwear staple.
Keeping things casual, pairing relaxed tailoring with lightweight knits is a key look this season, and Gieves offers a deft lesson in how to do it well. Whether a dusty pink ensemble, or else a dark blue suit paired with lilac and navy striped T-shirt, tonal combinations with an easy feel run throughout. ‘Keeping things tonal makes it easier to feel that you are dressing ‘correctly’, like with like colours are natural partners after all,’ says Frost, ‘the collection is designed to allow you to anchor your day to day wardrobe with some tonal basics.’
Of course, a pastel coloured suit might be a little much for some, but when worn in an easy fashion with simple knits or jersey T-shirts, it offers a self-assured, expressive look for spring. ‘Men are too worried about making mistakes in their dress’, says Frost, ‘this isn’t open heart surgery. The best advice is to try things on in a store you can trust’ – one suspects he means No.1 Savile Row – ‘and to be prepared to experiment a little.’ A little bravery it seems can go a long way, and Gieves & Hawkes Spring Summer ’17 walks this line in impeccable fashion. ‘This isn’t about dressing from head-to-toe in pastels’ says Frost. ‘They’re best used to lift your trusted favourites and refresh your investment pieces for the new season. It’s remarkable how making some subtle changes can completely update a look.’