Ernest W. Baker is a borrowed name for a character that evolves each season.
“We developed a fantasy. Each season there’s a new Ernest character that we build,” said Reid Baker, who cofounded the label with Ines Amorim. He spoke to WWD from Portugal, where the pair is based, close to the brand’s production sites.
But Ernest W. Baker is also a real person — Baker’s grandfather — whom he describes as “a local guy from Detroit” who ran his own advertising agency for 50 years. The designer interviewed his grandfather during the quarantine period and folded the footage into a video presenting the collection.
It combines three generations of grainy, family films with 92-year-old Baker Sr.’s assessment of his long, comfortable life. Mixed in are sharp images of a shaggy-haired model in the label’s spring looks. Whether lying on a bed or playing a keyboard, the model is impeccably dressed — American, with a European sensibility. This season’s character, in keeping with the brand’s style, is a sharp dresser with an appreciation for old-school polish.
With their sixth collection, the designers continued their deep exploration of tailoring, offering an immaculate lineup of prep-school ready looks: shorts and double-breasted suits, sleeveless trenchcoats and tuxedos, scoop-necked sweater vests and intricate cardigans. Styled with socks pulled up mid-calf, they completed the looks with shined leather T-bar shoes, remaking a classic from the Fifties with square toes, the edges gently rounded. Slick leather trousers and trenches added to the collection’s successful combination of elegance and edginess; so, too, did the label’s signature trousers, long and slightly flared.
“There’s a contrast between the very old and the very young,” said Baker, who gained design experience at Haider Ackermann and Wooyoungmi. He noted the naive, childhood feel of the clothing is offset by a more mature color palette — mostly khaki and beige, dark browns, and black, with a splash of bright red.
“We should all try to live the best life that we can. Love is a good part of it, love your family, love your neighbors. People who live that kind of life are going to have a pleasant life, really,” said Ernest W. Baker.