[Michael Bastian doesn't use doors. He breaks through windows.]
"Saville Row skinhead" was the descriptor being thrown around before Michael Bastian's F/W 2010 collection hit the runway so you can imagine my anticipation as I eagerly awaited, and people watched with Jeremy, for the show to begin. I wasn't sure what to expect from Michael this time around, but knew that things seemed to be headed in a much edgier direction for the American sportswear master. When the post-punk tunes started to fill Exit Art I knew that things were about to get real.
The tone of the show was set early when the first few looks that hit the runway were clad with nods to punk sensibility. Doc Martens boots, skinny low hanging suspenders, plaids and studded belts were mixed into a much more raw Americana then what we are used to seeing from Michael. It was a statement and a damn bold one at that.
With the overall tone set the collection progressed to include everything Michael does so well, but with a much greater emphasis on the more rough and tumble aesthetic that is often associated with punk culture. Even dinner party ready outfits were set off with safety pins, boots and various other badass take no prisoners styling. As it was explained to me by Antonio, a key member of the MB braintrust, Michael was envisioning a guy who may have grown up as a rebel or punk, but now in his older years works as a banker or lawyer. While his style had evolved and refined over time he still has this edge that separates him from his peers. My favorite looks, and the entire collection for that matter, combined Michael's well established penchants for refinement, fine-tailoring and layering, but with an new found razor sharp tension.
With its sleeves rolled up, knit tie double-four-in-hand knotted and pinned to its shirt, and tailored slacks stuffed into its boots, Michael Bastian's F/W 2010 collection defiantly stomped down the runway. This was not the typical American sportswear we have come to expect from Michael as a strong theme of British rake and grit ran throughout. Anyone who has followed MB's design career may have noticed how his past two collections (F/W 2009 and S/S 2010 being the others) have hinted towards a steady and methodical evolution. With classic American sportswear as his foundation Michael has begun to inject serious personality into his collections. Anyone trying to claim he is merely a more luxurious Ralph Lauren needs to check their pulse and their supposed insight. What gets me most excited about what Michael is doing is the fact that he is only beginning to show the true game changing he is capable of.
Circling back to my thoughts to his A/W 2010 collection for Gant the relationship between the two lines and their respective purpose is becoming quite clear. Michael's greatest asset is his uncanny understanding of classic American garments. While this understanding is, in itself, both impressive and noteworthy it is no reason to stifle the creativity that comes with exploring other genres or styles. While Michael's collections will probably always include nods to American sportswear, he appears poised to evolve thanks to his collection with Gant. Gant by Michael Bastian seems to serve, among other things, a safe place to design what made him an icon in the first place. With a sure collection to house that aesthetic he can explore various other forms and functions with his namesake line, much like what he did this F/W with raw, punk sensibilities. With a dividing line firmly in place between his two lines MB seems ready and willing to test the limits of "The Michael Bastian Guy". From where I stood on Sunday night it truly seemed as if Michael Bastian had no discernible limit to what he could ever hope to achieve.
[John Malkovich, a designer in his own right, was definitely digging it.]