It is the second day London Collections: Men and something is happening below the city's hallowed SW1A postcode, a number that encompasses the nerve system of British royalty and government from Buckingham Palace to 10 Downing Street. Underground at the Cabinet War Rooms, a selection of fashion industry VIPs step into the very space once occupied by Sir Winston Churchill, his wife Clementine and assorted officers and commanders during the darkest days of World War II.
"The suit's great, I had to have three fittings to make it fit. Perfectly handmade."
Almost untouched since, on this day it was tasked to the revered tailors of Savile Row to return the space to the 1940s with a series of tableaux reminiscent of what once took place there. The latest collaboration between the famous style street, The Woolmark Company and Savile Row, saw a continuation of the 'English Gentleman' theme in a presentation showing a very different side to this very dapper man.
Designers presented 80 beautifully crafted Merino wool pieces on live models, actors (including Michael 'Dumbledore' Gambon) and 'friends' of Savile Row. In an installation brimming as much with humour as with innate style, The English Gentleman at the Cabinet War Rooms saw Creative Fashion Director of British GQ Jo Levin deliver a message of grave importance for the autumn winter season ahead: Keep Cosy and Carry On… in Merino wool.
Posters echoing communications of the period's British government - "Help Britain’s Warm Effort" - highlighted the way in which Merino yarns, fabrics and garments are embraced by the world’s most prestigious tailors and fashion houses. Luxury weavers and textile merchants across the United Kingdom supplied over 200 metres of Merino wool fabric to tailors to create the bespoke pieces on display.
"A series of posters have been created to remind visitors of the wealth of importance wool has had over time, especially in the 1940s, when there were restrictions on heating and electricity," said Rob Langtry, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer for The Woolmark Company. The message holds true today in a world faced with its own energy challenges. “As the temperature drops we can layer-up in wool and turn the thermostat down to keep warm in the colder months," Langtry says.
While the presentation focussed on craftsmanship and luxurious detailing, it also demonstrated the natural breathability and temperature regulation qualities, which sees wool straddle seasons and product categories. Because wool absorbs moisture, quells odour, resists static and does not ignite, it stands as a sensible fibre to don should one end up confined to a bunker during times of international conflict.
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