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THE RUNWAYS: NEW YORK

Robert Geller on the racks and on the runway

His menswear line for Levi Strauss is hitting stores, and here he is at the shows.

September 16, 2009|Adam Tschorn

NEW YORK — Robert Geller wasn't just jumping on the seasonal trend bandwagon when he sent a sunny, upbeat collection down the runway Friday.

He was undoubtedly in a good mood when he began designing the collection in February, just a few days after influential GQ magazine named him its best new menswear designer in America.

And, while most designers have been trucking in a particularly American brand of can-do boosterism, Geller drew inspiration from his native Germany as it was in the late 1950s, a time of rebuilding and looking forward. The German term for it was Wirtschaftswunder ("economic miracle"), and Geller describes his collection as full of the kinds of clothes he would have liked German men of the 1950s to wear "while vacationing at the North Sea."

The result is a color palette a bit lighter than his normal dark hues, incorporating cobalt and coral blues, emerald greens and dusty rose shades, with boldly striped trousers that could have been cribbed from Carnaby Street and lightweight layered hoodies, bombers, cardigans and vests. Many of the looks were accessorized with gauzy fabric at the neck, part wayward ascot, part blooming flower, echoing the message of seasonal rebirth.

Though the runway collection won't be available until next spring, consumers have a shot now at the limited-edition, high-end capsule collection he designed for Levi Strauss as part of his GQ prize. Based on pieces from the denim company's archives, the 11-piece collection hit Bloomingdale's in New York last week and will roll out nationwide Sept. 21 at select Bloomingdale's (including Century City and Beverly Center) and Levi Strauss stores (including Beverly Hills).

Salt-washed chambray shirts, faded T-shirts, sherpa-lined denim vests and heavy-duty trucker jackets are solid, workman-inspired pieces that look like they've been lived in for decades. Details include pleated armholes on shirts, denim work jackets with button-out woven blanket linings, fading at jacket collars, metal buttons with a worn greenish patina, and slim-cut jeans.

The Levi's partnership is the first opportunity most men will have to see the work of a designer whose eponymous collection was launched just six seasons ago. But given the trajectory of this rising star, it probably won't be the last.

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adam.tschorn@latimes.com

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