Reporting from New York — Like the women's collections, the menswear offerings for fall/winter 2010 were retro-nouveau, a plumbing (and updating) of the past to outfit the fellow of the not-too-distant future. Among the overarching trends to come out of the Bryant Park tents for the last time (next season, after 18 years, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York is relocating to Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center) were the following:
Like the fall/winter 2010 collections shown on the runways of Milan and Paris in January, much of the menswear shown on the runways during New York Fashion Week focused on statement outerwear pieces. And one of the most ubiquitous pieces seemed to be the leather jacket, with many designers trying their hands at updated takes on the iconic motorcycle and aviator silhouettes.
Some designers, such as Simon Spurr and Michael Bastian, barely tweaked the classic look, while others switched it up considerably. Calvin Klein stitched a diamond quilting pattern across the lower torso of a black leather jacket, and Michael Kors' collection included a distressed aviator's jacket with generous fur lapels. Eric Kim (late of Monarchy Collection), who debuted his Mik Cire line in the Bryant Park tents on the opening night of Fashion Week, offered several incarnations: One motorcycle jacket featured plaid shirting fabric across the front, and Kim rendered another in sanded lambskin with unfinished cuffs and waistband to create a feeling of rough-hewn luxe.
Menswear designers have been pounding the tartan tom-toms for so many seasons now, plaids of every stripe have seemed to be ubiquitous. (For any doubters, we direct you to the half-pipe at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, where over the last week the U.S. snowboarding team has been shredding it up in red, white and blue plaid jackets by Burton.) Now, based on the offerings at New York Fashion Week, it looks like the plaid tidings will be with us through next fall.
Duckie Brown used it to Brit-punk effect with narrow-leg trousers, shirts and jackets in a range of tartans, while Michael Bastian's platoon of plaids struck a more rural Americana chord with red and black quilted nylon hunting jackets; double-faced red, white and blue plaid, Western-style shirts; plaid belts; plaid trousers; and even glen plaid plastered footwear (slippers made in collaboration with Stubbs & Wootton).
At Simon Spurr, a menswear label that made the move from static presentation to full-blown runway show this season, one of the sharpest-looking pieces was a smartly tailored black-and-white-check three-piece suit. And, finally, Rag & Bone, which staged separate men's and women's shows with a slacker mountaineering aesthetic, peppered with plaids — the men's with blacks, browns and greens; the women's in brighter shades of blues and reds.
Fur flew down the runway this season, more noticeably on the men's side than in any fall/winter season in recent memory. Michael Kors and Michael Bastian used it to line bulky Arctic-worthy parkas and puffer jackets, respectively. Band of Outsiders patchworked it onto chukka boots for men and multicolored sleeveless vests for women. And the sophomore standalone showcase of Phillip Lim 3.1 menswear, which had an urban adventurer theme, was heavy on the fur with oversized zip-front coats and double-breasted jackets, which boasted detachable rabbit fur linings — some with additional raccoon collars.
Raccoon, in fact, seemed to be the fur-bearing critter of the season — or perhaps it was just the most identifiable — since raccoon tails seemed to be the accessory of the season, hanging from jacket cuffs at William Rast and peeking from under pillbox hats at Thom Browne (creating a Daniel Boone-hotel bellman look that was a bit off-putting). Thom Browne, who also sent oversized fur mufflers and earmuffs and trench coats with fur-trimmed hoods down the runway, gets the award for raccoon-tail overkill with what looked to be several dozen hanging from a sort of suit-fabric sarong.
Bankers, dandies and genteel, well-heeled fellows of every stripe, it's been nice knowing you. If there was one unifying theme of the week, it was that next fall belongs to a different kind of man — the varsity athlete (Brooks Brothers), the rugged woodsman (Michael Bastian), the motorcycle-riding rebel (Mik Cire, William Rast), the urban adventurer (Phillip Lim 3.1), the rural explorer, the hunter, the military veteran, the thief in the night. (When the models at a Thom Browne fashion show manage to look like menacing cat burglars, you know change is afoot).
They wear soft, unstructured jackets, cardigans and cable knits, they layer on scarves and slip on chunky, butt-kicking boots. They haul rucksacks, cinch in their belted jackets, insulate against the weather, gird themselves for battle and get the job done.
Which made it all the more appropriate that on Feb. 12, this year's GQ/CFDA Best New Menswear Designer in America award went to Florence, Ala.-based designer Billy Reid, whose collection, presented at Milk Studios, embodied the full range of rough-hewn masculine luxe, with looks labeled "The Woodsman" (a faded plaid mountain coat, with a blanket lining and shearling collar), "The Woodford Reserve Master Distiller" (a dark olive plaid cashmere suit with a railroad stripe shirt) and "Railroad Varsity" (a washed-down, double-breasted shawl collar cardigan, raw selvage denim and an Oxford gray wool twill engineer's cap — a collaboration with Stetson).