When he was a kid growing up in England, Marcus Wainwright used to watch the Paris-Dakar Rally, the annual off-road auto race between Paris and Dakar, Senegal, in which “These crazy guys are flying through the dunes on massive trucks and race cars,” he said during a preview the day before his show. Pinned on an inspiration board nearby was a photo of a die-hard motocrosser in head-to-toe leather standing in the sand next to a Bedouin. The contrast between the two men became the starting point of the collection, in which Wainwright and design partner David Neville savvily synthesized those two disparate worlds into a potent cocktail for the contemporary market.
Neville and Wainwright know how to pack a lot of look into a single outfit, so the models took their exits in strategically styled layers: Robust leather biker gear was countered with light, breezy silks and cottons meant to combat the desert heat. (Or was it the sweltering temps of the show venue? Might air-conditioning be put in the budget next year?) The juxtaposition was anchored in the traditional English tailoring/military motif that is the backbone of the Rag & Bone aesthetic. A black shirtdress was layered over a ticking-stripe bra top and black leather oversize shorts, the whole ensemble topped off by an engineer-stripe jacket. Some of the striped pieces sported lace trim, adding a nice dose of femininity to the very sporty collection. Wainwright said they had gone to town on the proportions, with one of the strongest statements emerging in the oversize shorts, cribbed from “a British army-North Africa thing,” as he put it. There was an emphasis on white in the quilted shirtdresses and skirts and gauzy tops, but major color — electric green leather moto jackets, and cobalt blue tailored pieces — cycled through as well. Between the cleverly calculated, piled-on styling (replete with the pair’s burgeoning Pilot handbag series) Neville and Wainwright had all their bases covered — and well-merchandised.