The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.
There is much to be said about this phrase. Both about the man and the mountain.
Men are curious species, studied by women, other men, anthropologists and historians. And while many memes exist about the mystery of women, the seemingly predictable men are no longer so. They have evolved into stylish, sensitive and even more intriguing beings. For you see, the dire existence of New York Fashion Week Mens (NYFWM) showcases the very evolution that boys like yours truly have been a part of.
And then there is the mountain. And not just a mountain, but the natural habitats that surround us. As a bow to the 100th Anniversary of National Parks, Nick Graham aptly named his collection “Men in their Natural Habitat”. Winner of numerous awards and as a lifelong member of the CFDA, he has been a pinnacle in well tailored clothing and dapper suits for men, alongside his out-of-box thinking. And so this year, he chose to place men in their wild nature, complete with predators, rodents, greens, florets, and people (Tourists in the wild, you could say).
He transformed the show space into a national park, with uniformed rangers wandering around and pine trees perched in uniform fashion. The hunky specimens of men stood on some chopped tree trunks, elevating their beautiful faced stature even higher. The goal was not to give them a godly, Adonis look, for they were all fully clothed, but beckon us to first notice the numerous parks that they were named after. And the detailing of their feet.
Most of the outfits were 3 piece suits, often plaids, sometimes mixed with plains and polka dots. The pattern mixing blended well with the inventive distractions and decor, which added to the whimsy and fun of this unique afternoon.
My favorites were obviously the reds, having loved red suits by Brett Johnson and Costume National before. One gentleman sported a dark red plaid suit and a stealable burgundy fedora with matching boots. The coordinated gloves with an acorn patch made him look like a grown up Christopher Robin. It was quite disparate from the Christmas-stocking-fabric-suited guy in reindeer antlers, desperately clinging to keep them upright like a damsel with a water pail, ending up looking like a man with a migraine.
My favorite was River Viiperi, stepping out of his instagram image as a friendly, bubbly ‘sample sized’ model, sporting a maroon 3 piece suit with a floral tie and shirt. The detailing of weeds and florets in his breast pocket was a playful blend.
The red robins around disheveled hair mop were seemingly chaotic, as he tried to buzz them away, kiss them and stand still hoping they wouldn’t look like the aftermath of a Disney-style headache. That didn’t deter us from mischief, though!
Reds worked as accents too, like a red bowtie and red sling on a grey check suit. With long grey feathers, a plain fedora and contrasting striped gloves, this was a look that, sans bells and whistles, could be eaten up by Wall Street.
Grey brought me to the charming smiles of Chad White, who was laughing even when trying to stay cool beneath acorn mittens and a trapper hat. His was a classic skinny plain grey suit, well fitted at that, and accented with forest fuzz. Another woolen addition to any winter wardrobe.
Smile when suave!
Keeping with the floral nature theme was the debut of the suave Sebastian Sauve. Un-blazered in the heat in a painted effect blue floral shirt that matched the steel eyes, he had a bouquet stuffed into the back of hi shirt that created a dream sequence effect. He epitomized the Big Bend, as evident from the label that I almost missed from the blue daffodils popping from his feet.
Plaid blues continued on model Zach Rogers who’s catchy smile had been a highlight at Hickey Freeman. Combining it with a pinstripe shirt and polka dot tie was a daring combination that worked quite well owing to the common navy blue thread tying all of them together. Definitely a GQ worthy trend for all those helpless men trying to find combinations!
The pattern matching trend continued with navy as a center focus on a gentleman who was showcasing a rare outerwear piece, but was heavily distracted by a multitude of acorns glued to his trapper hat forehead! Nature is wild and unpredictable, after all. The same applied to a plaid shirt and polka neckerchief boy who’s fall leaves studded dreadlocks made it seem he had just arrived from a Peter Pan audition! The return of the waistcoat-only look was a pleasant surprise, and much welcome for my personal style.
The waistcoat trend was seen again with a model who had a squirrel sewn on his shoulder. Going for color matching with plaid on plaid and an unobstructed view of a fur hat and leather gloves, this was a cleaner look that was also easily imitable for the fall and winter swagger.
Moving into a forest green plaid were several of the same styled 3 piece suits. While some of the combinations began to look repetitive, I found the tonal matches and seemingly endless combinations of shirts and ties and bowties to be a lesson in sartorialism for cosmopolitan men. Plus the props added to the whimsy, what with a duck decoy on one gentleman who’s hat resembled the infamous marshlands outside of New York! But who’s suit matched the green of the male duck’s head.
The floral vs plain theme continued with a dark purple, eggplant colored suit complete with fluttering lavender florets. Alongside a chocolate brown suit seen in earlier shows, topped with a heavy acorn and quail egg hat that made it seem like the gentlemen was ready for being a brunch date!
This particular model sported a classic pair of Ray Ban Clubmasters which added to the wooden feel. Which worked better than a brown and olive plaid suit with a nest brooch and a scrawny looking owl (who happens to be my favorite bird), which seemed like a nod to the 80s.
The black suits followed a simpler route, one paired with a white shirts and letting the accessories do the talking, what with a multitude of zebra hued feathers, the ones at the sleeves looking a tad too feminine. The other was catchy, with large print check and an owl gazing at ogling photographers, propped on a beanie! The beanie and blazer trend seen at Zachary Prell could truly be a winner as a balancing act for the cosmopolitan boys.
There was a sprinkling of outerwear on some suits, including a quilted utility jacket and a faded camo pattern vest wore on jeans and plaid. The gigantic tiara-looking acorn took most of the limelight in the latter.
Almost like a sensory overload with so many focus points from dapper clothing to godly model to impeccable detailing and fluttering accessories, Nick Graham showcased a whimsical sensory overload. The creativity alone was unmatched, but the style tips and learnings came through clearly too. A perfect example of both work and play.
Here’s to a year of equal amounts of work and play, with a blurring line in between.