It’s been little over a month since Belstaff’s spectacular A/W15 menswear presentation; the one where they transformed a vast Westminster carpark into a pitch-perfect Sixties motorway greasy spoon, filled it with a cavalcade of classic motorcycles, and threw in three decades worth of male supermodels in unashamedly vintage-inspired biker gear. The combination made for compelling viewing, and cemented the brand’s return to basics under menswear designer Frederik Dyhr – replacing the sophisticatedly neutral luxury of previous seasons with a far more grounded, determinedly authentic aesthetic.
Fast-forward to mid-February, and it was the turn of the house’s womenswear collection – the first under the direction of ex-Marant designer Delphine Ninous. And heritage weighed less heavily here – instead of scowling Ton-Up boys and heavy leathers, Ninous focused on the broader idea of freedom. That focus took her both onto the open road, and into the skies (one of the lesser-known strands of Belstaff’s history was as a supplier to early aviators.) So instead of jukeboxes and vintage Triumphs there, were waterfalls of parachute silk threaded through a crumbling Clerkenwell courthouse, and clear-skinned models posed in oversized, layered pea coats and parkas.
Shearling – the season’s inescapable surface obsession – appeared as outerwear linings or wrapped around hoods, paired with slim trousers, cropped leather jackets and loose, masculine cotton shirts. But despite those sturdy materials, the overriding impression was one of easy softness – largely thanks to an unexpectedly gentle colour spectrum of pearl, mink grey, powder blue and faded khaki. Contrasting with the working-class, counter-culture roots of the menswear collection, Ninous’ vision drew on a far more aristocratic aesthetic of interwar privilege; it will be interesting, in seasons to come, to see whether her vision and Dyhr’s can merge.