Menswear designer Lou Dalton has been listening to British band Happy Mondays in her studio this season. More specifically, the 1988 album Bummed. So there’s no coincidence that her SS16 collection, presented at London Collections Men, gives a nod to the euphoria of the late ’80s and early ’90s.
It was an era of self-discovery for Dalton, who was born and raised in England’s West Midlands and left school at 16 to take up an apprenticeship for a bespoke tailor in Shropshire. “My grandmother was obsessed with clothes and had a hat and shoe for every occasion, my mother knitted, my aunt sewed, so I was surrounded by people who could make. But growing up in the countryside, I was removed somewhat from fashion.”
The designer is in the thick of the industry now, having broadened her horizons at London’s Royal College of Art and with a stint in Italy before establishing herself as the rising star of British tailoring with an aesthetic she describes as: “considered, thoughtful, contemporary.”
Now, as a designer who intimately knows her craft, Dalton can start to break the rules. “You can push your aesthetic that little bit further if you have the know-how of construction and pattern cutting,” she says. “This season has been an interesting one. I’ve tried to restrict myself a little and make the garments with less internal finishing.”
Fabric comes a very close second to concept for Dalton. For the third consecutive season she has worked with The Woolmark Company and the legendary Nino Cerrutti and Lancificio Cerruti mill in Beilla, Italy, accessing some of the best Merino wool cloth for her lightweight runway suiting.
“During my apprenticeship I came in contact with some of the finest wools in the world and from there on I was hooked,” says Dalton, who admits she would be lost without wool in the collections she produces, both summer and winter. “I'm obsessed.”