A look at New York Fashion Week: Men’s by CONSTANCE C.R. WHITE

The other morning, just a few days before the New York men’s shows began, basketball champion Dwyane Wade was on ABC’s “Live with Kelly”, looking for all the world like he’d just stepped out of a GQ cover shoot. Wade was sharp in a tight-fitting dove-grey jacket and crisp white shirt. A tie bar held his slate-gray tie, sprinkled with cascading multi-hued print, in place. He was a reminder of what an exciting time this is for men’s wear for just about anybody who wants to partake, even a professional jock.

Ideas for men’s wear are diverse from Wade’s pulled together glam to the relaxed or utilitarian viewpoint of designers like Carlos Campos. Inspired by Cuba, Campos presented a focused and confident collection of sportswear with a fresh take on the suit.

What is the suit these days anyway? Campos has an unexpected reply, and let’s just say it’s not a tailored, lined jacket and matching suit trousers. Cuba has become a popular source of inspiration and fascination, yet Campos’s take on the Cubano mixto was unexpected and appealing.

Particularly noteworthy was the re-imagined, traditional guayabera. In days gone by it was worn by the gentry and common man alike in Cuba. In the Seventies and Eighties world leaders from African and Caribbean countries adopted this shirt jacket as a statesman’s uniform well-suited to tropical climates. Campos’s version which he called the jackebera (Get it?) will be the bees knees for spring wear.

Working in his particular shade of Campos navy, the shirts, pants and jumpsuits indicated how a man might look at ease and pulled together simultaneously.

In addition to Campos’s  blue palette, several designers indicated their affection for soft or intense shades. Brett Johnson found inspiration in the dry, unforgiving landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico. Tough terrain to be sure but the designer chose to mitigate what could have been a too-weighty ode to desert country with sweet shades of blue, pink and gold.

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Brett Johnson

It was among the elements Johnson used to give his man more relaxed pieces. Dusty blue pants that buttoned up the leg where zippers would have been, updated the jogger. The traditionally-cut, powder pink  suit demanded attention. Johnson loves his luxurious Italian fabrics and  he used them lavishly throughout.

Working with uber stylist June Ambrose, who’s dressed several notable entertainers, the two said they collaborated seamlessly together on the collection and to prove the point  they’ve begun finishing each other’s thoughts. “What didn’t we collaborate on? Let’s see…?” asked Ambrose. “We worked on everything together,” finished Johnson.

With Ambrose at his elbow, Johnson might think about finding the music moguls and entertainers  – if they don’t find him first -in much the same way Tom Ford did. The ultimate prize: Jay Z who’s been an Ambrose client for several years. And imagine if Jay rapped a whole song about Johnson?  Consider the impact this might have on Johnson’s business. It would be like selling lemonade on a hot day.

Cleverly, Ricardo Seco kept things cool, choosing poolside, atop the roof of the Americano Hotel, to show his collection, the sparkly aquamarine water reflecting the vivid colors of the clothes.

The California dreamin’ feel of his sportswear came by way of Mexico, where the designer hails from – noting that he is the only one from Mexico who showed during men’s fashion week. Maybe so. Certainly, the influence of  Secco’s roots  on his  creations was most welcome and Secco expressed it  with a sure hand.

Tropical fauna and flora prints decorated the loose, long shorts. Spring bomber jackets that matched  easy, silk satin shorts, would also make a perfect spring wind-cheater  over jeans.

It was paradoxical to see Gypsy Sport by designer and creative director Rio Uribe as Uribe pushed boundaries. He pushes hard. Let me out of these restrictions on men, women, transgender, hermaphrodite, black, white,’ he seemed to be screaming.

Models wore sheer frocks over loose opaque jogging pants. Basketball shorts, which appeared to have come straight from the NBA store, were trimmed with white ruffles around the hem. There were long blue wigs, and if that didn’t suit, there was a short blue coif. Instead of the traditional one-shoulder dress or top for women, there was the one-breast top, ostensibly for a man or woman.

Understandably, this was a lot to take in, both visually and emotionally – so it was fortunate that models, in a kind of runway show loop, stomped down the runway several times in the same outfit. Paradoxically, it happened at the luxurious Cadillac showroom on Manhattan’s west side, Cadillac being one of the New York men’s fashion week sponsors. If you really wanted to make the point that this is not your father’s stodgy Cadillac anymore, one way to do it would be to get in bed with the most subversive American designers showing today.

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