Slightly bohemian and intensely colourful, with plenty of old school charm and classicism. No, I am not describing somebody in insanely sycophantic terms, but rather, I am trying to elucidate the biggest trend in menswear for AW12. For the coming months, men’s fashion is all about the countryside. However it’s a very specific countryside – it’s the kind of place where men call each other ‘chaps’ and go ‘clay-pigeon shooting ole boy’. It’s a place where families use the seasons as verbs and drive through the mud in Land Rovers. The English country gent is the look of the season for autumn/winter, with everyone from Missoni to Burberry sending models down the catwalk in tweed and knitwear.
Immediately, it sounds like an esoteric trend, merely accessible to people who “summer in the country cottage by the lake”, but for 2012, the look has been given an update – think Prince Charles meets Tinie Tempah, via David Gandy. The catwalks were awash with knitted turtlenecks, three-piece suits and velvet jackets. When our Orlebar Browns have hardly had time to get wet in the pool, it seems strange to be talking about autumnal trends, but fashion moves quickly and menswear is doing its best to offer us gents all the cosy comforts we could possibly need.
Knitwear is a huge part of the English gent trend. Even the classic three-piece suit which is huge this season (especially in pinstripe) was seen wrapped with knitted scarfs or covered with a jumper. Missoni championed this style, with their signature patterns emblazoned on many nonchalant and oversized jumpers. And when it comes to knitwear, nonchalance is paramount. The louder and baggier – the better! I’m terming this nouveau country gent and anything goes for AW12. Orley is a new menswear brand, specialising in innovative knitwear and their designs are a brilliant way to pay homage to the trend without looking like a wannabe aristocrat. They’re bright and quirky, with just the right amount of eccentricity.
Sarah Burton gave a master-class in this look for Alexander McQueen with velvet suits, cashmere overcoats and double-breasted dinner jackets punctuating the Fall collection and while her pieces may veer nearer to performance costumes for most guys, we can definitely learn from her template. Christopher Bailey at Burberry Prorsum offered more wearable looks with slim-fit grey suits and traditional quilted jackets characterizing his collection.
Everything about menswear for AW12 is luxe heritage – sophisticated, yet traditional and practical. Colour is vital, and Bailey demonstrated perfectly how to incorporate colour into the look, be it through gloves, an umbrella, hats or knitwear. The English country gent look became typecast for the past number of years, but it’s no longer a dated and elitist style. For AW12, it’s bright and fun, with the perfect amount of indulgence.
Check out some catwalk looks: