Home FASHION A debonair and dashing debut by Simon Holloway

A debonair and dashing debut by Simon Holloway


Fashion loves nothing more than a debut and the biggest this season in London was at Dunhill, where Simon Holloway staged his first collection for the house inside the National Portrait Gallery on Friday evening. The jury’s judgment? A hit.

Dunhill autumn/winter 2024 – Courtesy

Polished and very classy, this was not remotely a revolutionary collection, nor is Holloway a particularly pathbreaking designer. But as an expression of gentlemanly chic, the collection, and the show, was impeccable.
Adding to the allure, as guests entered, they passed some rare and wonderful oil paintings – like Sir Joshua Reynolds’ portrait of the master essayist Dr. Samuel Johnson. Even more impressively, one discovered John Taylor’s portrait of William Shakespeare, the only oil painting of the Immortal Bard painted while he was alive.

One suspects Shakespeare would have rather liked this collection given its noble aesthetic. As would James Bond, given the three-piece pale gray ‘From Russia with Love’ suits that opened the show. Come to think of it, so would Leonardo DiCaprio, who ordered a similar look from a tailor in ‘Catch Me If You Can’. Though Holloway coolly paired these suits with Moroccan-style carpet slippers.
That is not to say the clothes were archaic, far from it. Holloway broke new ground with some of the finest quiet luxury on offer. From second-skin, deconstructed leather blazers and sharkskin wool Balmacaan coats, to a wide lapel shearling pea coat paired with minimalist hiking boots. 
Plus, he showed classic with a twist and rather divine nappa leather car coats, cut with deep pockets, that had all the tony DNA one expects from Dunhill – a 131-year-old brand.
Camel hair double-breasted coats, and a series of shirt jackets – which he named the Bourdon, after its UK flagship – where all excellent. 
“Dunhill; its origin and progression from motoring in the beginning to the high Deco period to the refined tailoring language of the mid to late 20th century,” explained Holloway of his mission.

Dunhill autumn/winter 2024 – Courtesy

A highly experienced designer who has done stints at Ralph Lauren, Chloé and Agnona, 52-year-old Holloway now sports a thin matinee idol moustache that recalled David Niven.

Admirably, he commanded a set that felt like the ideal gentleman’s club – linen tables, small lamps, fine martinis and catering by Richard Corrigan, the Michelin starred chef – set before high culture, huge oil paintings of European nobility. 
There is a sweet spot in the world of quiet luxury, somewhere less uptight than Hermès and less predictable than Loro Piana, and with this collection Simon Holloway has found it.
As a brand, Dunhill – one of a handful fashion marques that are part of the Richemont luxury empire – had felt asleep for quite a few years. This weekend in London, it suddenly seems awake, and relevant.
And, indeed, the other Richemont fashion houses all seem suddenly alive. Pieter Mulier is hitting the ball out of the park with his dynamic collections for Alaïa in Paris, while Chemena Kamali will present her debut collection for Chloé in February. Even the fledgling house of AZ Factory is quietly ticking over and will stage another collaboration with Lutz Huelle, one of the most original voices in Paris fashion today.
All told, an excellent report card for Philippe Fortunato, the former Givenchy and Louis Vuitton executive who became CEO of Richemont’s fashion and accessories group in September 2020.

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