What is better than being bowled over by beautiful lookbook images of a designer and then seeing their pieces shot in lovely editorials? Why, it's spotting the product being worn by real people, impressing you for a second time round. Immaculate tastemaker Madelaine Levy of Bon Magazine snapped up a shirt from Palmer // Harding S/S 12's collection and ever since I saw her wearing it at Stockholm Fashion Week, I can't quite get the idea out of my head that one of their white shirts will be THE white shirt that will somehow change my life. Alright, that's a touch too far but honestly, seeing it on real live flesh and in good working condition, it struck me that it's an investment worth making. Good thing that new ecommerce start-up Avenue32 have bought a number of styles in.
On to Palmer // Harding's sophomore follow up A/W 12-3 collection. I think Matthew Harding and Levi Palmer are ok for now being known as the "guys who make good white shirts". It's not exactly a niche, which many designers occupy. However, they have expanded somewhat this season so that they'r also the "guys who make shirts in cream, mustard and black and do a few good jackets and shirt skirts too" Ok, that's not very snappy and sounds a little Derek Zoolander. Suffice to say, the duo haven't veered too far from their niche but have steadily added a few key pieces that enrichen the Palmer // Harding offering. Their emphasis is still very much injecting sculptural elements into the white shirt but I think they do so with far more subtlety this time round. They don't like to use lofty references but they mention Bruno Walpoth's wooden sculptures as one starting point, which can be seen in the use of white smudged with an earthy shade of ecru. Walpoth's sensual figurines can also be seen in the ease of movement created by more of that clever tucking, pleating and foldering that are unexpected and devastatingly subtle. I say the word devastatingly because I'm always floored by how mathematically complex Palmer and Harding's pattern cutting is.
For this season, those little nip n' tuck details are even more hidden and are there for wearers to keep to themselves as a secret. They've also focused on elongated shirt tails as well as one or two pieces of outerwear that undulate in waves at the back, which mixes up the proportions so that it's not all entirely concentrated on the upper half of the body. Little details like grograin folded into the collars, rope thread into cuffs and muslin panels provide a textural contrast. Still, it's the core foundations of the white shirt that still prevail in every piece. That's why Palmer // Harding are still very much the guys to go to for a good white shirt and I doubt you'd want them to do any 180 degree design turns. After all, why tinker with something that is getting off to such a good start?