“There’s a Western quality to the collection that comes from the other side of my life,” says Tom Ford of his spring/summer collection and referring to time spent on his ranch in the Santa Fe Desert. The Wild West is a strong influence on a small posse of other directional designers this season – though only one or two can claim the look was inspired by downtime in frontier country.
Ford’s new jeans are defined by a straight, slim-leg look in a white cord (£380), as well as three blue-wash options – each faded and soft. Complete the look with a lightweight brown suede blouson (£4,930) with fringing, a waxy, fringed leather blouson (£3,460) or a brown suede Western shirt (£3,680) and calfskin cowboy boots (£1,170). For just a hint of rancher cool, however, team an amber suede (£4,640) or dark-brown zip lambskin blouson (£3,120) with a simple cashmere Henley button top (£1,160) and a scarf. (For more Henley button tops, look to Mr Porter; great examples are by NN.07, £100, and James Perse Henley, £135.)
There’s more fringing to be found at Lanvin. A suede zip jacket (£2,560) with Western-style pockets has suede laces hanging from the seams and black ribbing on the collar and cuffs. Designer Lucas Ossendrijver has added poches cavalières (slash riding pockets) to the trousers (from £510), which further bolster the Western theme – one carried through to smooth calfskin ankle boots (£665), which are a smarter, more wearable take on cowboy boots.
American John Varvatos channels luxe Western style through canny layering: gauzey scarves (£175) with low-neck linen-mix tees (£155) and leather (£499) or linen waistcoats (£465), and straight-leg jeans (£395) paired with python-effect calfskin boots (£595).
Michael Bastian has captured the Western zeitgeist by turning, like Ford, to a place close to his heart for inspiration: the Sonoran Desert (as well as rock band The Eagles). “For years I’ve been escaping to Arizona to get away from it all; I wanted to celebrate this amazing corner of America where I relax and switch off,” he says. His is a soft-hued collection of Western styles with a Cali/West Coast accent. Bastian’s signature reinterpretations of dress shirts (€280) come in denim with pleated fronts, while faded shirts (€280) with pockets feature embroidery. Bark-coloured suede jackets (€1,970) and sand suede blazers (€2,000) team well with faded blue denim, as do sweaters (€300) and a cashmere cardigan (€970) with Native American motifs.
Indeed, Native American prints are very much part of this trend. Polo Ralph Lauren has what it calls Beacon Blanket prints on its duffel bags (£385) and backpacks (£430). These would look good with a vintage-style Hemingway deerskin jacket (£1,475) and classic plaid workshirt (from £125), or a Southern Western cotton/silk sweater (£215) with an eagle design and beaded draw cords. More beads – and fringing – can be found on Louis Leeman’s Native American suede trainers (£445).
Although Hedi Slimane says his new collection for Saint Laurent was inspired by psych rock, to me it chimes more with Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. On the catwalk, coffee suede jackets with a zip and fringing (£2,920) were teamed with black or indigo skinny jeans (£310) and santiag boots in nappa (£710), black leather (£665) or ostrich (£1,150), while indigo denim jackets (£525) were shown with shearling gilets (£1,770). This look is magnetically edgy and cool. Somewhat softer – though no less impactful – is a fabulous embroidered poncho with glass beading (£17,660), while the hooded Berbère poncho (£1,770) worn with a billowing cashmere scarf (£710) is very Clint Eastwood as Blondie. I once tried to achieve a similar look having been loaned a poncho – by Hermès – for a clay shoot. I teamed it with riding boots and even began smoking Cohiba cigarillos. Oddly, I won “Best Gun” that day, but I felt should have won “Best Dressed” instead. I became strongly attached to the poncho before returning it – and downright addicted to cigarillos.
This season, Hermès’ gorgeous merino- wool/cashmere Rocabar ponchos (£850) have calfskin trims and pompoms. (Check out too its Western-patterned silk bandanas, from £140.) And there are more ponchos at Burberry. I like the fringed ones (£1,295) in wool/cashmere, as well as the fringed cashmere scarves (£495). Clint would approve.