Richard James Menswear Spring Summer 2016 London
The bulk of the schedule's menswear shows are based around the Old Sorting Office in Holborn, a strange stretch of mid-town real estate that has little connection to the fashion industry; that all takes place much further east, in the lines of north-south streets that follow the city's ever-changing frontiers. But walking from Holborn to the Richard James show this morning was a walk back through menswear history – from Covent Garden in the Nineties to Sixties Soho, to pre-war Savile Row and on to Jermyn Street and the gentleman's clubs of Pall Mall. There, amidst statues of portly Victorian generals and smugly triumphant explorers, Richard James unveiled their latest collection in a long underground space overlooking St. James' Park.
It was a district that would have been familiar to the show's muse, Edward James (no relation) – a fabulously wealthy patron of the arts who fled England after his marriage dissolved into scandal and was found forty years later in the Mexican jungle, having constructed a fabulous Surrealist paradise.
Increasingly, that notion of the Englishman abroad has shaped the evolution of the Richard James brand – perhaps appropriately, given the brand's solidly international profile. And the Edward James narrative allowed them to marry their comfort-zone of slim, refined tailoring and sophisticated basics to an exuberantly madcap overlay of jungle florals and line drawn patterns, with fuchsia and baboon-orange stamped onto turquoise and sea-green backgrounds. There were enough sophisticated neutrals in the mix to ensure the James customer wouldn't be entirely put off by the show's carnival of colour and pattern – and enough riotousness to shock the sedate inhabitants of Pall Mall, just as Edward James himself did so many decades ago.