Louise Trotter made it all sound so easy. “Really, the core of Joseph is about luxury essentials,” she said. “That’s what we are known for; it’s who we are. So I begin a collection by thinking about what those luxury essentials are for this season, and then ask, ‘How can you elevate the everyday?’ The desire to have those perfect pieces is the starting point.” That process might sound straightforward—and its enunciation refreshingly clear—but in practice, of course, improving pieces whose indispensability makes them ubiquitous is a complicated business indeed.
Trotter’s chosen essentials for Resort ’16 were loosely themed around sportswear as it touched British streets back in the mid-’90s. So that opening gray cashmere pac-a-mac was inspired by the original, pre-reboot, Glastonbury-when-it-was-good, half-zip K-Way. The post-mod Britpop parkas and horizontally seamed track pants looked like a brave attempt to apply the Trotter formula to the most archaic nylon abominations of the Euro ’96 era. More broadly there were T-shirts, shirts, shirtdresses, pleated skirts (one wonderfully supple in a washed viscose), and the inescapable culottes. These were expressed in a variety of fabrications: Unctuous napa in subtle, unlikely shades was convincing as a track pant; poplin shirts were elasticated at the waist to create a flattering gather at the hip; and suede tees were given a slit at each hip, which allows you to tuck the front in and let the back flap out. Almost every item, tweaked, was represented in almost every fabrication. Cut, faded, and pasted check and inside-out fade florals were there to signal a had-it-around-forever-ness.
What further elevated this collection was the versatility many of the pieces offered. The shirtdresses were presented just as that, but also unbuttoned as a coat. Shirts doubled as jackets, a parka as a dress. The invitation to layer your way pragmatically through the season (and ensure you had purchased everything necessary to do so) was explicit. Trotter’s ultimate elevation here was a white T-shirt—the basest of all everyday essentials—which, when twisted, knitted, and slathered with satin, became arguably upscale for evening.