2010 sees the 80th Anniversary of dunhill’s global launch of the Japanese lacquer Namiki pen - widely believed to be the most exquisite writing instrument ever created. The cementing of the dunhill-Namiki relationship in 1930 is almost a ‘Boy’s Own’ tale from that period. A story of exploration, travel and adventure undertaken by two men - Clement Court, the extraordinary general manager of dunhill’s Rue de la Paix store in Paris, and Setsuji Wada, the Japanese ‘Maki-e’ lacquer artist and the representative of the Namiki company abroad. It is their overland journey from Europe to Japan - taking in Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and Korea along the way - and that spirit of travel and adventure from the period that has been the inspiration for Kim Jones’ Alfred Dunhill menswear collection this season.
“For me it is more about the spirit of that journey, the research and the idea of cross-cultures, that has informed the collection rather than the pen itself,” clarifies Kim Jones. “It is always about a maverick with dunhill, and when I found out about Clement Court trekking across Europe and Asia in 1930, taking the Trans-Siberian railway, and saw the detailed diary he kept with photographs, he became the focus and the maverick figure to personify this dunhill collection.”
The collection and its accessories are true to the history and wit of the archive together with the luxurious construction of dunhill’s men’s apparel, brought up-to-date with forward thinking techniques and fabrications which are, of course, another part of the dunhill DNA. All is styled in an insouciant, clashing, English aristocratic way, reinforcing the idea of the traditional yet radical nature of the dunhill man. Predominant colours are earthy and wintery tones, with ‘Bonsai Green’ as a frequent motif and there is also an ‘Indigo’ theme in shirting. Suiting features a narrower silhouette, often three-buttoned and three-pieced, often worn with heavy mountaineering footwear and layered with knits and outerwear. All a nod to the changing conditions from city to country; Europe to Asia and the spirit of exploration personified by the figure of Clement Court. Tailoring has as its focus the silhouettes of the Thirties, yet its fabrication is a variation on heavy Donegal worsteds and tweeds, transforming them into lighter, modern weaves yet keeping the traditional shapes through brushing the fabrics. A number of these fabrics are made exclusively for dunhill in English mills. Outerwear is double-faced (and this is also true of the shirting and blazers) and features luxurious, occasionally fur-lined and down-filled, construction. Although the look is ‘heritage based’ the innovative fabrics are not. For example, all weather fabric is used once more in this collection - the look is very traditional and formal but it is waterproof and has sportswear performance. There is also the Camdeboo fabric, a South African mohair which has great recovery and is ideal for travelling, keeping the wearer warm in winter and cool in summer. This fabric is used in the classic blazer, one of dunhill’s iconic items, yet totally innovative. The themes of exploration, travel and technology are reinforced once more in this Alfred Dunhill collection.
First published in Men's Passion issue #27 December-January 2010-11