What do Lew Wasserman, security cameras and the wallpaper at the Beverly Hills Hotel have in common? They all played a part in the spring and summer 2016 menswear collection Michael Bastian presented on Day 3 of New York Fashion Week: Men's here, which took its inspiration from the oft-overlooked dressier side of Los Angeles style.
"Celebrities, the beach and Coachella, that's what everyone thinks about when they think of Los Angeles," Bastian explained in a post-show interview. "Then you see these people living in Bel-Air and Beverly Hills and they're so chic and have so much style. I love that idea that in L.A. that you can't really leave your door without expecting to be shot [by a photographer] -- which is why we had that surveillance [camera] element -- you have to kind of dress up a little. So the idea was another version of L.A. style other than beach, grunge and the celebrity thing."
The seed for the collection was planted, Bastian said, after he watched the 2005 film biography of Hollywood agent and executive Lew Wasserman, titled "The Last Mogul." "Edie and Lew Wasserman were chic as hell," Bastian explained, "he was the first agent to dress like a businessman in a black suit and a black tie every day ... and that movie got me going about this kind of Los Angeles glamour."
The resulting Bel Air collection was presented against a backdrop that paid homage to the many gated enclaves of the Los Angeles area -- a stone arch framed by ivy and topped by a pair of security cameras. In addition to menswear, it also included a handful of women's pieces (including dresses, tops, sweaters and bottoms), marking Bastian's first foray into womenswear.
The sharp-looking collection, made exclusively in Italy, ranged from swimwear to tuxedos and was grounded in a color palette of black (oddly, it's a new color in Bastian's crayon box), beige, white, stone gray and olive green, the last of those hues made manifest throughout the collection in a banana-leaf floral print inspired by the wallpaper in the Beverly Hills Hotel. ("We had to redesign it obviously," Bastian said, "We shrunk it, we over-dyed it, turned it into a camouflage and then just ran with it -- it's on everything, including bags and shoes.") Pops of accent color included flamingo pink, icy yellow and pale mauve. Key fabrications included linen-blend suiting and shirt fabrics, lightweight cashmere and (because it's L.A.-inspired after all) denim.
Bastian, a designer who delights in the details, paid homage to the Golden State in subtle ways, such as printing "Eureka" (the state motto) on pique tank tops and sweatshirts and using custom-made brass buttons stamped with the California state seal.
Key pieces on the men's side included a stunner of a double-breasted suit in a navy-and-red windowpane check, a range of fun sweaters (including one with an intarsia knit banana leaf design and another with a Nordic-ski-sweater-like "Bel Air" pattern that also appears on Michael Bastian X Stubbs & Wootton slippers) and a pink, one-button shawl-collar tuxedo jacket. Women's standouts included a navel-baring cotton boucle shoulder-button sweater and a banana-leaf camo print tank dress.