Ok-k-kay, I'm back from Las Vegas and as Terrance would say, "I'm here now. Pardon my lateness." As I have previously mentioned on Twitter, Gant by Michael Bastian F/W 2011 was one of the few "fashion" things going on during NYFW that I not only had an interest in, but was really looking forward to. The presentation was very well done and absolutely packed with all the names and faces Tumblr kids absolutely lose their shit over. So, yeah, I was happy that I got to experience the collection in an atmosphere that was buzzing and probably on some fire marshal's radar. Now, onto the clothes. I knew beforehand that the vibe was going to be Bastian's version of Americana, but seen through a European lens - a Scandinavian one, to be specific, thanks to Team MB's constant jaunts to Gant's Stockholm headquarters. What they set out to accomplish they definitely succeeded in doing and any recap that you happen to read is going to say just that. The whole L.L. Bean by way of Sweden vibe speaks to Bastian and co.'s ability to synthesize various ideas in a way that fits in with what his customer, the constantly referenced "Michael Bastian guy", has come to expect and appreciate. A collection firmly rooted in two very distinct styles shouldn't work and shouldn't work well, but I guess that is what separates Bastian from the countless other designers working today who lots of us menswear nerds casually dismiss. As in each successive season (in both his Gant and namesake line) Michael has built upon his version of American sportwear, while continuing to push the envelope into ambitious territory at the same time. For me, F/W 2011 was great because it was a little rougher around the edges than his past two Gant collections - a little more unpolished and I mean that in the best way possible. Both Bastian and Christopher Bastin, the designer of Gant Rugger, have mentioned gang imagery as reference points recently and I think some of that comes across here. No one will deny that the styling was bold, busy and bombastic, a Bastian signature, but looking at the individual pieces on their own reveals a F/W 2011 collection that is extremely wearable, well made and damn stylish. At a very pivotal time in his career Michael was able to deliver his most ambitious collection for Gant yet and prove that betting against him, quite simply, is a foolish endeavor.