NYFW: Band of Outsiders collection puts the best feet forward

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NEW YORK -- Scott Sternberg told me the presentation of his Fall 2009 Band of Outsiders/Boy collection was inspired by the1967 Jean Luc Godard film ‘La Chinoise,’ a movie about a group of French students studying Mao while trying to find their way in the world.
But Sternberg himself isn’t so much trying to find his way in the world as creating it out of whole cloth -- in this case corduroy, worsted wool, flannel, cashmere and grosgrain -- and pulling the curtains back a little at a time, adding more and more to his universe.

This season found him adding things like tailored sweatpants -- gray Shetland wool on the outside with cotton terrycloth on the inside, and gray patchwork suits and sweatshirts that could have earned their own frequent flier miles going from Sternberg’s studio to store shelves, with the fabric coming to the U.S. from Italian mills then to India for the patchwork and back to the U.S.


Both his men’s and women’s collection for Fall 2009 (the younger women’s line is called Boy by Band of Outsiders) seemed to have a little more relaxed silhouette, a few seasons ago a double-breasted jacket would have seemed out of place on Planet Sternberg; this time out, the black wool flannel double-breasted blazer with brass buttons seemed right at home.

This time out, his erstwhile students kicked back on park benches in the aforementioned hoodies and sweats, played backgammon in gray pinstripe suits with grosgrain lapel taping and tossed horseshoes in wool peacoats and reconstructed penny loafers. Gamines lolled on their beds, flipping through novels while wearing Donegal tweed suits with short pants and watched the classroom clock in gray wool color-blocked shift dresses.

One of the joys of watching Sternberg build his universe has been the ongoing footwear collaborations, most notably with Sperry. Fall’s installments include the Top-Sider silhouette in gray wool flannel, a pair in black rubber covered in the white speckles common to old-school composition notebooks and another pair in a print resembling the surface of a walnut school desk.

The Manolo Blahnik for Band of Outsiders spiky heels are pure school-girl fantasy fun (in more ways than one), lace-up leather confections that were inspired, Sternberg said, by ‘imagining the Converse iconic Chuck Taylor silhouette on stilettos.’ (Slam dunk.)

I wasn’t the only footwear fan in the house, rapper-designer Kanye West (whose own footwear collaboration with Louis Vuitton, you may recall, debuted last month in Paris) was effusive about the line. ‘I love it,’ he told me. ‘I’d really wear this stuff.’ As if to prove his point, he tugged up his military fatigue pant leg to reveal a pair of rust-colored suede boat chukkas.

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photos, from top: Manolo Blahnik for Band of Outsiders leather lace-up stilettos , men’s and women’s looks from the Band of Outsiders/Boy by Band of Outsiders presentation during New York Fashion Week (photos by Peter Stigter/Jonas Gustavsson), and a color-blocked suede boat chukka by Band of Outsiders for Sperry Top-Sider .