Of all the interpretations of 21st century menswear that have appeared on London's runways these past two days, Matthew Miller wins the award for the biggest surprise, hands down – opening his show with a model wearing a dark two-piece suit, formal shirt, and tie. Savile Row aside, that formula's been entirely absent from the conversation this week, and it seemed particularly perverse that a modernist such as Miller should be the one to resurrect it.
This choice made a little more sense when he declared his inspiration: conformism, constriction, and control. That explained the slick side-parted hair, the buttoned-up tailoring, the precision (right down to luggage-tag bracelets and dangling swing-tags; everything above board, paperwork all in order). And as the show wore on, and the aesthetic opened up into Miller's more familiar pared-down separates, that tussle with restraint continued – from crisp, doubled-up tunics that chafed against softer under-layers, to stiff-necked tees that evoked nothing so much as straitjackets. These elements gave the designer plenty to kick against, triggering blood-red slashes across pristine cotton and viciously-slashed denim patchworks. Creased linen and metal-infused cotton in shades of blush pink and pearl created an uneasy, hard-to-define middle ground, whilst one of the final models wore a loosely-cut denim suit with wildly frayed edges – providing the counter-punch to the disciplined perfection of that opening look, and suggesting a tension which Miller himself seems loathe to resolve.