Fall 07 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week: Day 1

by Harry Sheff

Featured Designers & Collections

  • John Bartlett
  • Morphine Generation
  • Perry Ellis
  • Duckie Brown
  • David Chu
  • Gilded Age

John Bartlett

Where were the naked men? The bearded bears? The barely veiled eroticism? John Bartlett has swapped rough trade for a more salable salute to his namesakes, JFK and John-John.

Bartlett’s show opened with an almost blindingly bright (for Fall) presentation of ivory and khaki, including strong V-neck tennis sweaters, with an inset reminiscent of nautical pullovers. Subtle military details were scattered throughout the collection, including a lovely cadet jacket, the West Point-style sleeve insignia of which was picked up later in red on an ivory knit. A herringbone cut-velvet looked comfortable and just…well…YUMMY in a pair of ivory trousers, but showed up later looking elegant in a long black coat with military braid trim on the shoulder. A forest ranger’s palette of pine green and brown was very strong and new. A favorite accessory was a tubular knit cable scarf. A Fair Isle sweater in black and red was also strong.

Morphine Generation

There’s a late 19th-century vibe running through menswear these days, from the vests showing up in tailored clothing to the more literal interpretations at collections like Barking Irons and Vintage Red. The aesthetic was also strong at Morphine Generation, with Slimane-style suspenders worn hanging about the legs, rather than over the shoulders, and antiqued textures and a tea-stained palette. A few unfortunate outerwear pieces in black virgin wool obscured an otherwise attractive collection. But a canvas patchwork trench, a grey silk cardigan and some propaganda-style screen prints were all very strong. I think my favorite was a black fine-wale corduroy suit, paired with a shirt that had a sort of “Members Only” collar detail, where the fastening band was replaced with a bow tie.

Perry Ellis

Last season, Creative Director John Crocco paid homage to the brand’s founder, mining the archives for a collection that was truly in Ellis’s spirit, yet very modern. This season the line incorporates the brand’s DNA, but Crocco’s ownership and sensibility are clear. A chunky shawl collar cardigan in reverse knit, oversized cargo pockets in wool hunting pant, a cropped peacoat with fur trim…all were light, yet rich in texture—very menswear, very wearable, salable and fashionable. Again one of my favorite pieces of the day had formalwear roots—a sand-colored cavalry twill dinner jacket. Crocco also played with an interesting cutaway silhouette in a duck jacket—a rounded curve at the front bottom hem looked very clean.

Duckie Brown

Steven Cox and Daniel Silver always have a bit of fun with their collection, but this season the pieces seem to be growing up. The duo has not lost its sense of humor, but there were more and more serious pieces, augmented with a pop of color; e.g., the opening grey pinstripe jacket and trousers, set off with a pair of turquoise gloves. Which is not to say that the two could resist sending boys down the runway in opera-length knit gloves, sweater knit briefs with colorful gloves stitched onto the sides (I just didn’t know where those were going), and the signature Duckie Brown diaper-drop silhouette pants…this time in a pair of button-back, union suit-style leggings. They have reinvented the hoodie for a look we’re sure to see imitated in the young men’s market—move over all-over prints, the new hoodie will have one or two perfectly executed motifs, strategically placed. For instance a black sweatshirt’s hood was completely beaded in black, taking on the sheen of a tub of caviar. Another was beaded with two panda heads, one on the hood, and the other on the front of the jacket. Multi-colored beading was also applied to a pair of gloves, evoking the cover of the controversial book “A Million Little Pieces,” which shows a hand covered in candy nonpareils, perhaps a comment on the veracity of our industry.

David Chu

Chu probably wins the award for the most civilized presentation of fashion week, drawing editors to a lovely 1864 townhouse located on East 22nd Street, where models are simply dressed and sent out on a small stage where buyers and editors alike can take a close-up look at the definitive quality and style of each garment, not to mention speak directly to the designer. The collection was classic Chu, which is to say classic menswear, and included simply gorgeous cashmere sweaters and pants, shearling coats, and pristine shirts.

David Chu’s Anne Taylor Davis shares direction with Bergdorf Goodman’s Tommy Fazio.

Gilded Age

The theme of the Gilded Age show was “Window on the Past.” A sepia-toned photograph of late 19th-century storefronts was enlarged as a backdrop to a long, slim stage. Accompanied by a live band, the show’s models walked onto the stage, greeting each other, almost as if animating the street scene behind them. The rough-edged pieces in the collection also looked like they had stepped right out of the photograph, with melton wool jackets, chambray shirts, henleys, moleskins…. One of my favorite pieces was a “Volcanic mud corduroy five-pocket natural dye” trouser. Vintage military and workwear styles, textured fabrics and cool street-cred combined in a collection that will appeal to the young, Lower East Side hip crowd and bohemians everywhere. Like a bracing shot of vodka at the end of a long day, this collection was a pleasant and enervating surprise.


The cool presentation didn’t hold everyone’s attention.