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September 14, 2012 9:56 pm
For a clue to the underlying message of the spring/summer 2013 New York menswear season, all anyone needed to do was cast an eye at the front row.
Olympic swimming champion Ryan Lochte popped up at Joseph Abboud’s show in the New York Public Library at the beginning of what became something of a fashion week tour (Lochte has stated that he is interested in going into fashion), while David Beckham sent the paparazzi into a frenzy when he posed for photos with designer Yohji Yamamoto at the latter’s Y-3 show.
Welcome to the new athletic chic, where designers have incorporated technical sports fabrics and the exhilaration of Olympics opening ceremony attire into formal and casual wear for next spring. Take Tommy Hilfiger, whose show was staged on a marina-like catwalk deck on the Maritime Hotel’s terrace. “Extreme nautical within a big preppy envelope,” said Hilfiger, after showing yachting parkas with deep red slash backs, Napoleonic riggers’ jackets and red-and-white stripe suits. At Lacoste, sleek tunics with hoods suggested yachtsmen, while at Y-3, calico shorts, mini-windbreakers and ergonomic high-top trainers were gym-appropriate.
For Abboud, it was motoring – specifically the film Drive – that provided the sporting reference, as models wore sleek nubuck crossover jerkins suitable for a car chase. Patrik Ervell – who held one of two great collections by young design talent in the Meatpacking District’s Milk Studios (the other being Canadian Antonio Azzuolo) – showed jackets with performance polyurethane-coated shoulders or “aerial jackets” inspired by mountaineers and made of tough nylon. And, like many of the New York style pack, Ervell anchored all his suits with river runner-sandals.
Not everyone bought into the sporting motif, however. One exception was much-admired Russian émigré Alexandre Plokhov, whose homespun cotton pants, rugged Crosta suede boots and cast bronze jewellery had an unusually spiritual inspiration: Orthodox Russian monks in Mount Athos, Greece.
A new brand of downtown preppy dandy shopper also now inhabits lower Manhattan; their design leaders are Billy Reid, Carlos Campos and Antonio Azzuolo; their dream, to achieve instant style-setter status via the internet.
“It’s a Tumblr-driven era. In trying to set trends immediately, these guys go to everything, and shoot Tumblr looks at every event,” said photographer Tommy Ton.
Of this group, Azzuolo showed bold plaid suits, cut like a Tommy Nutter design for a 1960s London dandy and worn with gentlemanly Edwardian-collar white shirts; Campos concentrated on symmetry, thanks to bulky pea coats and drainpipe pants that imagined a cinematic gentleman detective. Louisiana-born Reid’s favoured combinations were large linen windowpane check suits, worn with an overbold James Bond double-striped jacquard silk tie.
In other words, next spring, when thinking of how to dress, pretend you are an athlete dressed for sport but secretly en route to enjoy your success at a hedonistic afterparty full of beautiful women. It’s not just spring/summer. It’s the post-London Olympics season.
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