Stefan Cooke and Jake Burt have opted out of this season due to the death of a close relative last November. Instead, we saw them in a Paris showroom. After debuting womenswear at their co-ed show last season, they also opted out of the category this year — temporarily, one hopes — in order to focus on their menswear.
Those program points are registered, another strong SC series that has established an appealingly proprietary visual vernacular in just a few years of activity. Designers say most of their production is now taking place in the UK post-Brexit, just to save the hassle and paperwork of so-called seamless post-withdrawal deal arrangements (insert empty laugh here). Still, the quality of work looks so high, they seem to have negotiated the transition better than most. Burt attributes some of this to their process: “Each piece is hand-drawn to scale before we review and refine it. So we often work on a huge sheet of paper, drafting out all the details, and then It’s sent to the factory where they remake it. This process is important because, in my opinion, it means you end up with these perfectly laid out pieces.”
Burt says, read Tom Wolfe
The Right Stuff, whose book about test pilots and budding astronauts at Edwards Air Force Base in California sparked debate over the marching bands of America considered, and adapted their iconic code material from European sources. The designers took their own archive pieces, disassembled and reassembled them to create the layered frog-front jacket. Shirts feature understated monograms and signature slashes on the arms: a fresh and sophisticated detail.
As always, the duo keep an eye out for vintage finds. The faux folk trim on intarsia knits was inspired by details on faux Tyrolean cardigans they found in California. T-shirts emblazoned with images of old fishing trophies ties into the victory-driven inspiration behind the collection: Along with the crochet bomber jackets, the designer felt the pieces evoked, not without reason, a subdued buffalo vibe . The best pieces include refurbishing a musty Swedish medic jacket they tossed together; reborn in plaid wool with custom jump buttons, it looks like a different kind of coat, somewhere between a fishtail parka Between coat and Nehru collar work jacket.
Cooke and Burt are clearly talented designers and top-notch sartorial geeks. It will be interesting to see them return to womenswear and further attempt to express their very specific codes and mindsets after this absolutely right and proper lockout season. Like Wolfe’s pilots, they should constantly push the envelope in search of a breakthrough.