If a man is known by the company he keeps - and the companies that retain his services - then Martyn Bal deserves to be more widely recognised. Having completed an MA at London's Royal College of Art in 2000, the young designer was instantly recruited to assist Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme, helping to make the label arguably the most influential in early Noughties menswear. Bal followed that plum first job with stints as creative director and design consultant at Verri Uomo and Versace respectively before being hired by Burberry as menswear design director. (Burberry Prorsum autumn/winter 2007 was his last collection.)
Bal's constructivist (and unsurprisingly sharp) design ethic is tempered by a certain fluidity of movement and softening details such as raglan sleeves, which filter into his more relaxed spring/summer 2010 capsule collection, featuring lightweight trenches and leathers. His muse for S/S 2010 is musician Erik Hassle, a Swedish singer/songwriter who, although not widely recognised outside his Scandinavian homeland, has recently been signed by Island Records. (His single Pieces is out on 10 February 2010.) Promisingly, the campaign was shot at Knebworth House, which in the past has played host to - or rather been played by - the Rolling Stones.