Patrick Grant of E. Tautz has had a good year. At the end of 2014 he opened the brand’s first store, situated on the newly buzzy Duke Street, and in May of this year he beat off stiff competition from the rest of the London pack - Sibling, Matthew Miller, Astrid Andersen, Christopher Raeburn - to win the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund. Some were surprised by the verdict - Grant sits outside the melee of London fashion. He’s not into branded sportswear, he’s not courted by grime stars, he doesn’t throw cool all-night parties, he doesn’t make brilliant, covetable tracksuits - he’s a grown up and so is his brand. Adults are often nostalgic for their heyday, and while Grant is in no way old enough to remember the fifties - the decade today’s S/S 16 show referenced - the optimism of that decade and the determination amongst authorities and individuals to push Britain out of the post-war slump spoke to him. It’s easy to see why - we’re in a similar period of instability and transition. ‘Recession dressing’ lingers on, and optimism, extravagance and opulence on the runway still feels a little bad taste. At E. Tautz, Grant walked the line between the two ends of that spectrum. His presentation was cheerful, friendly - full of easy shapes and cheerful semi-cartoonish pieces, from that happy yellow kagoul to those graphic printed tops and the signature giant, voluminous denims - yet clean, crisp and in keeping with the relaxed yet refined styles of the fifties, the decade when the old-school ‘sportswear’ that Grant creates was first invented.
Grant had been looking in particular at ‘The Festival of Britain’, a summer-long celebration of the arts, technology and design in 1951. A suitably patriotic reference for a man like Grant. He’s a bit obsessed with British industry, factories and the importance of making and developing - this is the man that saved a floundering 193-year-old business by snapping up Savile Row’s Norton & Sons in 2005. While many of Grant’s peers focus on the hardships of British life, sending out collections that are political and irreverent, he’s focusing on the possibilities. The fifties may seem outdated to some, but they're all about progress in Grant’s eyes. He’s looking forward, just not in the way you’d expect.