SS16: Tea and Time Travel
You join us as the sartorial rush hour approaches its zenith. It's June and we're halfway through the capital's three-day menswear fashion week, London Collections: Men, and a frenetic charm of stylists, journalists, buyers, and waiters bearing trays of cocktails and canapés is vying for space at Turnbull & Asser's Mayfair headquarters before its SS16 presentation.
'I grew up on the sleepy Norfolk Broads, and am fascinated by the different pace at which people in London live,' the company’s head of design Dean Gomilsek-Cole tells me as we pick our way through the crowd. ‘No one here ever seems to have enough time, so what if, suddenly, time and location was no longer an issue? What would we do? Where would we go?'
Before there's time to reflect, we arrive at a cabinet in what the designer describes as 'the most eccentric area' of the room. Something needs to be addressed before we contemplate the fabric of time, and that's his over-arching theme for the shirtmaker's SS16 collection - but what is it?
'When I was growing up, science fiction had a big influence on my imagination. I'd often force my younger brothers to endure adventures inspired by the latest book or film I'd enjoyed, from HG Wells to Marty McFly.'
'It’s tea,' says Gomilsek-Cole with a warm laugh. 'Every adventure in England starts and ends with a cup of tea. I've taken it quite literally.' Indeed he has. Displayed behind the glass is a glorious indigo smoking jacket, woven with a cascade of toasters, toast and pots of jam.
Turnbull & Asser is renowned for its show-stopping, storytelling jackets. Gomilsek-Cole shows me a beautiful example with a subtle jacquard. Only when you look closely at the pattern do you notice that it is made up of sand-timers. It was made in London using silk woven in Sudbury, Suffolk - the designer sets great store by the use of British mills and admits to being 'pretty proud of the textiles we design'. Some are so exclusive that just a handful of pieces will be made using them. He points out some exquisite ties that also playfully illustrate the collection's themes, from bone china in choppy water ('a storm in a teacup') to penny farthings with compasses hidden in their wheels that pay homage to a pre-decimal world of boy's-own adventure.
The cabinet's other contents - old copies of Practical Mechanics magazine and a poster promoting the 1960 film The Time Machine - provide hints to Gomilsek-Cole's inspiration. 'When I was growing up, science fiction had a big influence on my imagination. I'd often force my younger brothers to endure adventures inspired by the latest book or film I'd enjoyed, from HG Wells to Marty McFly [the hero of Back to the Future]. The Practical Mechanics reference is a nod to my father, who'd build anything to further those adventures, but I also like the idea of a home inventor being the person to solve time travel one day.'"