Coming from a long line of naval tailors, Neil Barrett has the cut in his blood. There is always a military precision in the way he creates new hybrids from his influences. This season, for instance, he blended army fatigues, biker leathers, and the natty houndstooths and herringbones of the 2 Tone ska revival. Then he shrunk and cropped the whole lot to Barrett's signature proportions and sat it on top of chunky cyber-bovver sandals. Some of the combinations looked completely natural, like the tan trench or wool blazer hybridized with a motocross jacket, or the biker vest with the army green cotton back. They were the most convincing. Other pairings were less so. True, within the mandate of the collection, a leather-patched aviator jacket over houndstooth shorts was logical enough. Likewise, the herringbone blouson with the cropped pants.
But at some point, Barrett's signature has become a formula. It may have made him the go-to guy for composite iterations of Youth Cults We Have Known and Loved, but it's boxed him into a corner. Oddly enough, as his hybrids whizzed past to one of his typically fabulous soundtracks (always among Milan's best), the thought occurred that help may be at hand in the form of Barrett's genetic legacy. Gallingly conventional though it would probably seem to him, a purely sartorial collection—minus the crop and the shrink—would highlight his skill, his taste, and his instinct for what makes a man look hot. Or cool. Or maybe just good.