People often ask me which shows are my personal favorites, and this season I’d have to say Balenciaga and Chanel, but often it’s the small, obscure labels that leave the deepest impression, like the Eckhaus Latta show at PS1, where the models walked in a tight spiral among the guests and the clothes were simple and inventive. Another designer in that category is Thomas Tait, from London, who this season presented a compact collection in a Paris gallery.
Tait, who started his business in 2010 and was the first recipient of the LVMH Prize, has shown some great collections, strong on tailoring and outerwear, but this one was exceptional. He out-finessed some of the bigger brands with clothes that balanced street appeal with high fashion, craft with wearability. His so-called Jimi Hendrix pants, in bias-cut velvet, end in splashes of fabric and beads over the feet. Another pair of trousers, similar in feel to painter’s pants, has buttons running up the sides. And maybe the standout style in the collection is a pair of jean-cut pants done in a patchwork of six or seven fabrics, all washed or treated in some specific way. They remind me of dungarees that have been patched and handed down; and then recut and repatched and top-stitched a little so that only a trace of the original garment exists.
Tait has been very clever with this collection. There are sublime dresses in plain cream or black silk crêpe with panels, and one in different muted shades of chiffon with a crazily smocked bodice. Coats are the ballast of the line, striking a tough, cool, almost samurai attitude — notably one in black suede and sheer fur, with whip-stitching. You can partially detach the lower part of the coat, at the front, and let the flaps fly.