New York Fashion Week spring 2014: J. Crew men’s collection review

NEW YORK -- The J. Crew man is headed to the great outdoors for spring and summer 2014 -- or at least his wardrobe is -- as evidenced by the collection presented Tuesday morning at the Lincoln Center tents during Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week.

The inspiration: “America’s National Parks,” says Frank Muytjens, head of men’s design for J. Crew. “I have always been a fan of Ken Burns documentaries and the Eliot Porter Sierra Club books about our national parks from the ‘60s -- Canyon de Chelly, Baja California, Arcadia, Joshua Tree -- magical places with a sense of history.”

The look: A range of classic menswear pieces in a color palette plucked from Mother Nature’s paint box -- earthy, dusty browns and slate grays and lots of muted indigos with the occasional pop of cobalt blue and red.


Among the standout pieces were tan suede bombers, and lots and lots of denim in evidence -- not just five-pocket jeans but indigo selvedge work shirts, indigo chambray gym pants and denim windbreakers. There were even denim neckties, chambray slip-ons (a Sperry for J. Crew collaboration) and denim details found their way into the button plackets of polo shirts.

Why so tangled up in blue? “Denim is part of our heritage,” said Muytjens, “and using it in these ways are a way of reinterpreting that but still keeping it fresh.”

The floral motif that elsewhere this week has been telegraphing a definite tropical vibe morphed into something more indigenous to North America here, with weathered fern and fallen-leaf patterns Muytjens says were inspired by cyanotype prints from the 1800s.

Key pieces: Among the eye-catching pieces were a parka with a hand-stenciled and painted leaf design, a sharp-looking seersucker suit and the cyanotype leaf-print shorts.

Before Muytjens was pulled away to another interview, we asked him about the last national park he visited. He told us he’d recently been to Joshua Tree and Bryce Canyon. “But my absolute favorite is Canyon de Chelly [National Monument],” he said. “The rocks, the Indian ruins -- it’s just so magical, refreshing, and quiet.”

As Muytjens disappeared back into the mid-Manhattan maelstrom that is the fashion week at the tents, his words sounded less like an inspiration than a ream vacation.


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