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Retrospective Modernism is the practice of updating modernist art, architecture and fashion for a post-modern world. It’s not a bad ambition when you consider that the modernist period produced some of the greatest design statements in human history: the Eames Lounge Chair, Le Corbusier’s villas, the Concorde, and the like.
In London, designer and vintage curator Scott Fraser Simpson is applying Retrospective Modernism to his clothing range, Scott Fraser Collection, with some very satisfying results. Said collection covers everything from Cuban collar shirts to 1960s-inspired knitwear and various retro trouser designs. His pieces are primarily made-to-order in London or Italy, using limited edition or dead-stock fabrics, which Fraser Simpson goes to great lengths to source, rooting through warehouses right across Europe.
Among his most well-known creations are his Classic Wide-Leg Trousers, which feature an authentic 1950s cut, to sit on the natural waist with a soft waistband, thin 2.5cm belt loops, generous, flowing legs, and forward-facing pleats. Slip on a pair, whether in a summer or winter fabric, and they conjure just the sort of mid-century sophistication that one hopes full-cut pants will (think Gene Kelly or Miles Davis) without descending into costume.
Of course, the styling of his trousers helps to hit that half-vintage, half-modern sweet spot. Fraser Simpson doesn’t generally dress up his pants with a shirt and tie, but tends to keep things relaxed. “I find they work well with a looser top-half, like a casual button-down shirt, or just with a good white T-shirt,” he says. “Treat them as the one tailored piece in your outfit and they’ll look smart but not too smart.” He also leaves his trousers unlined, so they come into their own during the warmer months. We recommend a pair in one of his colorful Irish linens, which have a lovely weight and softness to them.
And, if you want to go one step further, try pairing your new ‘Wide Legs’ with a Scott Fraser Collection Lido Shirt, inspired by a 1950s resort shirt, cut in brightly striped vintage fabric—the last rolls of which Fraser Simpson saved from a closing textile mill last summer. With one-piece collars and straight hems, these shirts are just as cool—if not more so—than his wide-leg trousers, both to wear and to look at.
Scott’s collections change seasonally and ready-to-wear pieces will only be made in small quantities, so if you see something you like on his website or through his Instagram feed, snap it up sooner rather than later.