In the New York Post today, there was an article about American Idol and the young singer Paris Bennett. In the tryout she had it all; the voice, the look, the background, basically they figure she has already won; all she has to do is not mess it up.
I kept thinking about that when I was previewing Michael Bastian’s debut collection for Fall 2006. He has the background (Bergdorf Men’s Fashion Director), the support (Robert Burke consulting on business development), the production (Brunello Cucinelli will manufacture the collection in Italy), and the eye to notice the huge void in the mens designer market for a fresh take on classic American design. All he has to do for the next thirty years is not pull a Lapo Elkann and continue to mine the rich heritage of American design, and he is golden.
During his time at Bergdorf’s, Michael kept asking himself why no one was capitalizing on American classics. He has a point; Calvin and Donna are American but they don’t really reflect traditional American design; they are more international. Ralph is Ralph – he has created his own vocabulary and rarely ventures outside of that. John Varvatos is kinda there, and Thom Browne is a super fashiony version of Americana, but Michael’s collection really nailed it. I guess the highest praise I can give it is that it is exactly how I want my closet to look. It is full of clothes that make a real difference in the day-to-day way that most men want to dress.
I remember feeling the same way when I discovered Giorgio Armani in ’83ish; he did clothes that, as a young kid in Indiana, I could recognize but were done just differently enough that you didn’t feel like everyone else, or even worse, my dad. When Michael tells his version of basically the same story, my Armani is replaced by his fondness for Perry Ellis.
For the next few days I will post photos of what I think are the first images of his collection to be seen anywhere (The Sartorialist’s first scoop!!). I will point out some of the finer details like the Neapolitan sleevecaps, the return of the pleated pant, the cashmere onesie, and knitwear with a touch of poetry. Stay posted and tell me what you think.