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THE RUNWAYS: NEW YORK / MENSWEAR

Fashions that are wearable

Spectacle is set aside for practicality.

September 18, 2009|Adam Tschorn

NEW YORK — The spring/summer 2010 men's collections presented during New York Fashion Week didn't break much new ground compared with what was shown on the runways of Milan and Paris this summer, but designers did give the men's wardrobe of a year hence some tweaks as they, like their European counterparts, cut back on the spectacle and focused on showing a wider array of wearable pieces.

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Blue men group

The biggest carry-over from Europe was the range of blue hues that covered the catwalk, from a pale peaceful shade evoking notions of the sky to vibrant cobalts and oil slick shades, with nearly every shade in between.

The color cropped up in suede shoes (Duckie Brown), dip-dyed skinny ties (Band of Outsiders), the solid suits of Michael Kors, cerulean head-to-toe looks at Lacoste and piscatorial patterns at G-Star. A calming antidote to the stress of the recession? Certainly, but Band of Outsiders' designer Scott Sternberg offered a more realistic reason in the era of the cash-strapped consumer: "Blue just sells really well," he said.

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Here comes the sun

Spring collections, with the natural theme of cyclical rebirth, always seem to be more cheery and upbeat than the fall/winter ones, but the sense of optimism in the clothes seemed to signal the end of a great battle. They drew inspiration from the postwar Beatniks (Phillip Lim's first stand-alone men's presentation) and Germany's post WWII "economic miracle" (Robert Geller).

And some invoked more literal miracles with the word milagroso (miraculous) printed and appliqued on some pieces, and the virgin of Guadalupe printed on others in Michael Bastian's homage to the style of Latin American men.

Just in case anyone missed the memo, Bastian hammered the point home with a cheery yellow sunburst design (based on the Argentine flag) embroidered on the chest of rugby shirts and on specially made Stubbs & Wootton slippers, which he paired with yellow wide wale corduroy cutoff shorts embroidered all over with soaring sea gulls.

Polka dots, a cheery pattern if there ever was one (how many patterns take their name from a dance?), started to bubble up on the European runways, and here they had another moment, most notably in Thom Browne's collection of dot-embellished pieces.

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Anchors aweigh

While there was some evidence of the desert/safari vibe felt throughout the European shows in things like the safari jacket silhouette and abundance of khaki, the sand between the toes of New York's runway models was of the beach variety, with collections inspired by Malibu circa 1978 (Band of Outsiders), Palm Beach and the Hamptons (Brooks Brothers). The anchor motif cropped up here, but to a less regimental effect than Vivienne Westwood showed in Milan.--

Nothin' but net(ting)

One of the more curious trends of the week was the proliferation of meshes and all manner of perforated fabric, including face-covering theatrical fishnet (Thom Browne) and a loose chain weave that resembled the netting of a basketball hoop (Y-3 by Yohji Yamamoto). And it wasn't just on the men's side -- some of the most striking pieces from Marc Jacobs' women's collection were designed to look like large white latticework akin to a garden trellis.

Perhaps it's the notion of having a safety net of sorts. At least that's what it turned out to be at Y-3's soccer-flavored runway show.

At the end, a net dropped from the ceiling and hung in front of the cadre of fashion photographers, after which Yamamoto and French soccer star Zinedine Zidane emerged and took turns kicking soccer balls toward the shutterbugs

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adam.tschorn@latimes.com

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