American men who have frowned on fashion's fits of frolic for the past several years can rest easy. A new crop of designers are making names for themselves with menswear ideas that attempt to rationalize rather than revolutionize the way men dress.
Taking their inspiration from the closets of American consumers, new designers--Joseph Abboud, M.W. (Murray) Moss, Cecilia Metheny and Ronaldus Shamask-- are using familiar shapes and fabrics in unfamiliar combinations. The new yet unintimidating look is for men who want a wardrobe that looks right in any city where business or leisure travel may take them.
While rugged, outdoorsy and highly masculine items such as Pendleton plaid shirts, windowpane-check wool coats and leather jackets--influences from TV shows such as "Twin Peaks"--are evident in many of the fall collections, the new breed of menswear designers has taken these "essentials" and paired them with more tailored pieces to extend their wearability.
"I'm expanding on a very American sensibility with my designs for fall," says Murray Moss of the collection he designs with Tim DiSalvo. "I don't think menswear has to play to shock value."
The collection centers on classic items: collarless camel's hair cardigans, cotton Pendleton-style shirts, bold Prince of Wales houndstooth wool blazers. Many of these items are shown with multiblend zip-front shirts or topped off with a three-quarter-length velvet stadium coat.
Known for his coats and intricately patterned sweaters, Joseph Abboud, the former designer for Polo Ralph Lauren and Barry Bricken does not disappoint. The fall Joseph Abboud collection includes a long black shearling coat as well as a suede trench with a quilted cotton lining.
Like Murray Moss, his former business partner, designer Ronaldus Shamask has branched out on his own with a rich collection that plays on the haphazard way American men like to dress.
"I refer to my collection as a travel kit," Shamask explains. "The flexibility of each piece is important. Jackets and pants do not have to go together. The man who wears my clothes probably looks like he made a mistake. But he looks great and is very forward for the 1990s."
Part of Shamask's approach involves such basic components as wide-wale corduroy trousers and three-button blazers. There are four trouser silhouettes in the line, each a classic takeoff on pleated pants. His shirts, some featuring zip plackets rather than buttons, have a decidedly Western sensibility.
Designer Cecilia Metheny's fall collection is softer and more refined than those of her male counterparts. However, like Moss, Shamask and Abboud, Metheny has absorbed elements of the American landscape and incorporated them into sophisticated tailored jackets, trousers and knitwear.
A rich, "romantic" collection of shirts and neckwear are paired with single-breasted, three-button blazers and coordinating trousers in subtle checks and bird's-eye patterns.