Menswear maketh the woman: Meet Lou Dalton

Her sport-inspired, minimal aesthetic has secured Lou Dalton the coveted opening slot at next week's London Collections: Men, says Harriet Walker
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It's no easy thing to kick off the London menswear shows, as designer Lou Dalton already knows. Hers was the first of last season's inaugural shows in the capital in June, and on Monday, her name is once again at the front of the schedule for the autumn 2013 collections.

Fortunately, Dalton's designs have received consistent critical acclaim from both press and buyers alike, and the modern man seems only too happy to blend her sport-inspired and minimal pieces into his existing wardrobe.

"London is so inspiring and very welcoming in terms of creativity," she says, "but when I do take time out and have a holiday, the chosen location quite often features in the collection that I'm working on." The autumn 2013 collection that she will unveil next week takes in references from films such as Local Hero and Ryan's Daughter, photographs of her father as a young man (a Teddy Boy, in fact) that she revisits with every season, as well as the rugged backdrop of the Shetlands.

"I spent almost three years commuting there all for the love of a man," she explains enigmatically. "It's a beautiful, awe-inspiring place to be."

Trained at the Royal College of Art, Dalton has also worked in Italy, as well as collaborating with brands such as Full Circle, Stone Island and Hamish Morrow.

Expect cosy and woolly, slightly incongruous things then from Lou Dalton as she starts the menswear collections in London. Last season, she mixed strict but slouchy tailoring with sports references that saw a blazer incorporated into the shell of a baseball jacket – just one of several envy-inducing pieces that have flown straight from the catwalks and off the shelves.

"I'm keen not to allow the collection to look too formal, even though my background is in tailoring," she adds. "There's a real buzz around menswear designers based in London – they have a strong identity and a clear vision."

Lou Dalton's clothes are available from Liberty, The Corner and Opening Ceremony;