Under its new chief executive, Laurent Malecaze, Alfred Dunhill Ltd. is parting ways with Mark Weston, who was at the creative helm for five years. The collection marks a moment in what is considered a disruption, as the brand transitions to a new phase of menswear expression. The moment is worth it, as there are plenty of newbies to steer it in the right direction.
Dunhill is, after all, a harness manufacturer turned supplier of high-quality luggage accessories and clothing to early adopters of the newly invented automobile (sort of Hermès, but not the rider). Then it changed direction and created incredible watches, timepieces and jewelry gadgets (not unlike what Cartier used to be). It has also found a strong niche in pipes, cigarettes, lighters and other miscellaneous goods related to Jean Nicot’s addictive imports (although it is no longer in the business of making tobacco products). Dunhill also has a strong association with golf. It expanded fully into partner-produced menswear in the 2008s, then hired its first creative director, a certain Kim Jones, in the 2008s . Just three years later, Jones was smuggled to Paris.
what’s next? There seem to be two core traits in Dunhill’s DNA: masculinity and creative opportunistic adaptability. At this juncture, Malecaze could choose three obvious routes; continue to push fashion messages (via a new messenger), focus more on expressions of male-identifying style and craftsmanship (an angle Berluti and Brioni have recently successfully chosen), or creatively Experimental reinvention re-adapted to Alfred Dunhill’s unchanging founding spirit.
The middle road is probably the safest – via some R&D-filled detours in the third direction – and with these looks, Dunhill’s in-house team has done an excellent job of demonstrating its ability to plan the route. A dark blue blazer cut from new panels exemplified the form. Other pieces you can imagine the brand’s hedge fund Bourdon House regulars would be happy to wear include monochrome dogtooth puffs, black leather coats, ultralight Crombie herringbone coats, simple camel duffel bags and sophisticated Cashmere racket in grey. A bridle-inspired bag and brogue boots with molded soles (which benefit from a heel-to-toe drop) complete the compact offering. After so many twists and turns in its historic plot, Dunhill awaits a new one. However, it was a fascinating halftime break.