The inspiration came one crisp Spring morning on Mayfair’s South Street, when a gentleman whizzed past Turnbull & Asser Creative Director Becky French on a bike, a work of art under one arm, wearing a boldly checked shirt in the kind of colours that could thaw the most sombre of ensembles still entrenched in wintry monochrome.
The result of that fleeting incident is Turnbull & Asser’s new Madras collection, a selection of garments dominated by shirts (from £250) in lightweight linens whose bursts of burnt orange, emerald green, pinks and other breezy hues capture the zesty relief felt collectively on these meteorologically challenged isles when the mercury finally creeps north.
Turnbull & Asser regulars will recognise the brand’s distinctive silhouette in garments like the Weekend-fit shirts in bold checks and block-colours, while a new silhouette is introduced with the long-sleeved Holiday-fit shirt, whose relaxed, Tony Montana-esque revere collar and shorter cut encourages untucked insouciance. And, as well as shirting there’s a three-button unstructured (natch) blazer (£995) with matching trousers (£225) made from lightweight cotton twill in clay red.
It’s a capsule collection that will massively boost the permutation count for gents who gravitate towards eclectic ensembles, and we suspect that even the most conservative of Turnbull & Asser enthusiasts – Prince Charles bestowed a Royal Warrant, his first ever to a menswear emporium, on them in 1980, and Sir Winston Churchill would complement his Henry Poole chalk-stripe three-piece suits with shirts and bow ties from the Jermyn Street emporium – would approve, as would exuberant dressers including Charlie Chaplin, Pablo Picasso, The Beatles, Sean Connery and Frank Sinatra: all of whom darkened T&A’s doors at the height of their sartorial endeavours.
It’s a fair bet that the mysterious cyclist who sparked the whole concept would be proud of a small impact he made, one fleeting Spring moment, on London menswear history, were he ever to find out about it.