Most young designers worry about if they can actually create a unique voice for their collection, get stores and press to review the line, secure financing and manufacturing, get help with shipping, accounting, and every other aspect of running their own business (usually doing all this within the confines of their own tiny apartment). With his debut collection, Michael Bastian (above) seems to have breezed by most of these challenges, and headlong into an even more deadly challenge for a young designer….expectations. If you are Kris Van Assche, the most luxururious thing on your side is time. Van Assche was probably a pleasant surprise for most stores and press; if a store is buying his collection, it is more than likely for the press he is getting. If they sell a little, great; if they don’t, they don’t lose that much and they can always put pressure on him to get them up to sell thru or take it back….let me correct that, they always put pressure on them to take it back. As long as Van Assche continues to show potential and gain press pages, if he has an up or down season, it’s no big deal. (right, Ann Demeulemeester?)
However, if you are Mr. Bastian and stores come to the appointment knowing his support system and Bergdorf background, the first thing they see is $$$$. If he is able to manage a soft shop or pad, or at least a dedicated area in his first season, he has to produce, and quick. I doubt that department stores will feel uncomfortable discussing gross margins with a former retailer at the end of a season. Anyone remember Matt Nye? Similiar situation – he had the looks, the background, access to big money, and great contacts. Unfortunately, once you got past the big red cross logo on his navy turtleneck sweaters there wasn’t a lot of design going on. I just don’t see lack of ideas being a problem for Michael Bastian. If I seem like a “homer” (that’s a sportscaster that roots for the home team while on air) for his collection, it is because I have seen his work and I have met him and I am impressed with his….awareness. He seems aware of his abilities (and if you watch Project Runway you know this is rare in designers), and aware of this opportunity. All I can say is that watching Michael Bastian and Thom Browne over the next few season is going to make for great theater.
Thursday, February 2, 2006