Neil Barrett Brings An Exclusive Capsule Collection to Dubai

18 November 2019
British Designer Neil Barrett brings his Middle Eastern influenced capsule collection to Harvey Nichols Dubai this month. He tells GQ Middle East why comfort matters, reinvention is important and what Middle Eastern style means to him.

GQ: Where did you begin with this collection?
Neil Barrett: Harvey Nichols challenged me to work on something desireable for UAE so I came up with this keffiyeh camouflage design, actually from a collection I first developed in S/S 16.

I was trying to combine the idea of the Middle East and Arab world, which has that iconic keffiyeh scarf that we all know and love. I wanted to cut that with something very western and create a new pattern that could combine the hybrid, that becomes a new future classic. I actually made carpet and wallpaper out of it at the time because I loved it.

The buyer reminded me that that collection was very successful here (in the UAE) when we first put it out so we decided to consider re-working it, re-colouring it and we’ve presented it here now.

This feels like an idea of reinvention, is that fair?

It was a combination of something that felt original at the time and still feels strong. So to pull something you’ve worked on in the past and rework it makes sense. All brands are looking at their past, reinterpreting it or presenting it to a clientele who hasn’t seen it before.

How do you approach reinterpreting something so traditional like the keffiyeh scarf?

For me, taking something literally is appropriation. Taking something and creating something new from it is what creatives should do. It shouldn’t be about taking something and just photocopying it. I feel that’s not designing. Our job as designers is to take an element and take it to the next step. Keeping the essence of what it is but not being literal. In other collections I’ve mixed elements from Japan or China or Korea or Scottish, taking these and blending them together to make new masculine patterns.

What do you think of Middle Eastern style at the moment?

Dubai is ever growing, ever changing and ever building. The taste level here is very international. I think the reality is that a lot of people who live here are global. They buy clothes to wear here but also in Europe and around the world. I have tons of clients who live between here, Paris and New York so they need practicality for comfort and travel.

And looking at the collection itself it feels very relaxed, very easy to wear

We wanted something that is suitable for the climate and the reality of living in and travelling to and from Dubai. Travel is an undercurrent for all my collection. 50 percent of what I do is plain, monocolour and 95 per cent is stretch or jersey or knit or sweatshirting based that is then remade into tailored garments. It elevates it and makes it practical and comfortable but it looks sharply tailored from a distance. The reality of what I try to do is add a new element you don’t perceive until you touch it. I’m not into creases, but with that sharpness you need comfort, too.

@harveynicholsdubai

The Harvey Nichols X Neil Barrett capsule collection comprises relaxed luxury Shirts, T-shirts, Shorts and Sweatshirts characterized by a Modernist Graphic combined with KEFFIYEH CAMOUFLAGE, an original Neil Barrett artwork