Neil Barrett is a master at capturing the zeitgeist of the moment, and this season urban neo punks walked against a backdrop of a fast-moving film of bright lights, big cities, and flashes of neon. The designer marked the 20th anniversary of his brand with a collection that encapsulates the spirit of Tokyo punks with traces of the original from London. Barrett said he loved the idea of taking different elements apart and patch-working them back together retaining traces of the original heritage, patterns, and fabrics and mashing it all together.
His collection had a rebellious tinge with leopard and plaid prints layered over impeccably tailored suits and dresses. “It’s punk through the eyes of today,” exclaims Barrett, who observed the original strain of punk firsthand that was all the rage in Britain during his youth in the 1970s. It was a mash-up of biker gear, school uniforms, and military pieces, all worn together in an irreverent way. This season, the military references and minimalist tailoring for which Barrett has become known for were subtly punked out; T-shirts featured album cover artwork from fictional punk bands, chunky brass chains dangled from belt loops, and animal prints and plaids were giddily mixed together. “Punk is the ultimate British subculture. I’m so proud of being British, and I’ve always been inspired by the subculture.”
The show opened with a strong offering of prints featuring neon signs from Soho’s red-light district in London and the Shinjuku district in Tokyo. Some of the most unique pieces were a red bio-degradable, PVC plastic trench coat, a sweater with three types of animal prints, a half-chain-link-half-utility bum bag, black zippered-pocket trousers, and burgundy combat boots that recall vintage Dr. Martens. The coats, in particular, were great classic topcoats so beautifully cut. Barrett did them in a checks with animal-print fur collars, and crinkly, shiny fabrics, or made from strips of different animal prints. Barrett’s work effortlessly combines a universal wearability and an impeccable cut that sets his brand apart. “You have to make stuff you believe in; that you actually wear,” says Barrett.