Guys are out for fun and sun

The overarching sense of optimism that characterized the first few days of the Spring/Summer 2010 shows at New York Fashion Week here was evident in the men’s collections as well as the women’s, both in colors -- vivid pops of blue and rain-slicker yellows playing off a variety of gray suiting materials like sunlight peeking from behind the clouds -- and cheery prints and even polka dots.

At Duckie Brown, which over the last few seasons seemed to be dressing its men for battle, designers Steven Cox and Daniel Silver sent a stripped-down collection of lightweight shorts and gauzy shirts down the catwalk. Nary a long trouser in the lot, the shorts were nubbly tweeds and crisp twills in a range of gray and dusty khaki, several sporting floppy bows at the hip. The shirts were sheer and short sleeve, some in bold solids; others in out-size checks in sun-faded shades. “After seasons of covering it up, we really wanted to just show the body,” Silver said after the show.

At Band of Outsiders, it was Malibu circa 1978, Jacques Cousteau’s “The Silent World,” and Dennis Wilson’s “Pacific Ocean Blue” that inspired Scott Sternberg’s sunny, preppy at-play collection. He said he’d been experimenting with dip-dying, an effort that resulted in some striking madras shirts and neckties in shades of blue that were evocative of the idyllic line on the horizon where the sky meets the sea.

Even Thom Browne managed a collection that was less Grand Guignol than usual; it was beachy keen and upbeat. He chose to stage the show in his narrow, sunlit Hudson Street storefront and serving up print motifs that included leaping marlins, palm trees, life preservers and waves. He accessorized with scallop shells glued to the side of briefcases and iPod earphones. Other pieces were festooned with a riot of outsized polka dots, some printed, others cut out and still others layered in half-dollar-sized black paillettes that had the effect of scales.


As the models left the finale to the tune of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” they exited the store and clambered aboard a bright yellow school bus with “Thom Browne” painted on the side, which then pulled away up Hudson Street.

So the Optimism Express has left the station, and the only question that remains is: When next spring rolls around, will customers be ready to get on board?