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“Dalton’s garments showcase a contemporary classicism melded with quality craftsmanship and considered details, with a dose of the ’70s thrown in for good measure.”
Lou Dalton is a starlet of the British menswear scene, part of a bumper crop of young designers currently hailing from the UK. And, though classic-yet-modern has become something of a cliche at the moment, it’s a label fitting of her acclaimed collections. With a background in traditional tailoring and sportswear, Dalton’s garments showcase a contemporary classicism melded with quality craftsmanship and considered details, with a dose of the ’70s thrown in for good measure. For Fall/Winter 2013, the designer looked to the Northern Isles of Scotland for a collection inspired by Bill Forsyth’s 1983 oil industry flick Local Hero. An unlikely reference, perhaps, but one that translated smoothly through an urban-meets-rural mix of Shetland fabrics, tartans and oilskin. We caught up with Dalton recently at the latest Dover Street Market installation to talk menswear, the Fall/Winter 2013 collection and what readers can expect going forward. Read on for the interview and be sure to check out Lou Dalton’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection at our online store.
I left school at 16 to work as an apprentice to a bespoke tailor, Arthur Pardington, back in Shropshire. Being exposed to the male wardrobe from such an early start in my career laid the foundations for what I do today.
What was it about men’s clothing that initially appealed to you?
The fit and attention to detail.
Do you feel that you have a signature look or aesthetic?
It has become a lot clearer these last few seasons. When you gain a little momentum, it allows you to push yourself even more so. I have a traditional sportswear background and very much pull from that when designing the collection, but do try to maintain a more modern, interesting take on what I am trying to do.
What was it about the idea of a Texan oil company moving into the Scottish highland that appealed to you for Fall/Winter 2013?
I’ve spent a lot of time in the Shetland Islands, which is the most AMAZING place, and at one time the biggest oil port in Europe. Not long after the SS13 show, I was taking a wee rest and was having a bit of a DVD day and re-watched Local Hero. The terrain and the surrounding areas within the film reminded me so much of Shetland. Local Hero tells the story of a Texan oil baron who has this grand idea of purchasing the island to stick a great oil port in its place. The raw, bleak terrain is forever inspiring.
How did you attempt to translate this idea into a collection?
Very much through the color palette and fabrics used, from raw Shetland wools through to a black PVC which had a feel of the oil slick about it.
Any personal favorites from the collection?
This particular collection was very personal so there are lots of pieces that I relate to. However, the two-color melange knit in mint and navy and the color and fabric block-tailoring I love, especially the overcoat. I’m also super proud of the footwear, so robust yet refined — I love it.
“I just want to keep moving forward and continue to grow in terms of stockists — I’d like Lou Dalton to be here when I’m not, and to achieve that, I have a very, very long way to go.”
Has the attention from reputable retailers changed anything in any way?
We have had such a great response to the collection from both retailers and press and of course it helps when a store that is on your wishlist of retailers comes knocking. It just makes me more determined to keep going, to keep pushing hard to deliver a well-made product that will hopefully become an object of desire within the male wardrobe — one likes to dream…
What can readers expect from you going forward?
I’m excited about what we are doing for Spring/Summer 2014, I just have to pull it off now which is a daunting thought. I just want to keep moving forward and continue to grow in terms of stockists — I’d like Lou Dalton to be here when I’m not, and to achieve that, I have a very, very long way to go.