Who can resist a party with smolder faced secret agents on a mission?
The 1950s was an era when gamblers, royalty, conmen, bankers and philanderers all had a certain swagger that made them insatiably alluring. A glamorous time, but one in which the world was going through a revolution of sorts, what with the pop of technicolor and all things bright. Cuba, so we hear, was undergoing a revolution of its own. And this was the precise stage for Nick Graham‘s SS17 show at New York Fashion Week Mens (NYFWM), aptly titled Our Men in Havana, a nod to Graham Greene‘s 1958 novel with the same title. Storytelling was evidently a forte of this talented designer.
A go-to destination for partygoers from all walks of the continent, the over-the-top events specialist ensured that his wildly versatile suits and jackets were fitting for guys to party in Cuba. Recreating the pre-Vegas nightlife era of Havana ensured that his was a spectacle filled with showgirls in feathered headdresses, a 12-piece Cuban orchestra, men caught mid dance, and everything needed for the recreation of the popular Tropicana Club. With an eye for details, as evident in his show last season, each male model was named after a fictional secret agent. Even when entering the glittering venue, flight attendants in impeccably dressed hostess costumes handed out brochure’s in retro ticket holders, including a voucher for Havana Air itself!
Evident of a ‘post prep’ and ‘post revolutionary’ design theme, the boys waltzed through the crowds, each introduced as a dapper gent from a foreign land. Thereafter, each took a separate pedestal with their name, description and shutterbug opportunities aplenty for the jaws that had frolicked onto the floor in amazement. While it was challenging to get shots from the boys with only their outfits, the surrounding hip-shaking music, neon feathered showgirls and throngs of pulsating crowds made for a dynamic club backdrop. Consequently the guys were smiling, laughing, dancing and shimmering in their exuberant attires.
The collection was infused with lightweight linen suits and jackets, seersuckers, checked Madras suits, and details aplenty. Some petite floral or anchor and sailor themed shirts, with graphic tropical prints and dollops of camouflage added to the enigma of the night.
The tropical twist was much needed for a funky summer vibe, and the combination of paisley shorts or simple cotton tees, or cropped trousers with tailored jackets truly proved that this was travel wear at its wearable best. For that dapper lineup of nomads who created a summer story no matter where their plane landed.
Some standouts included a pair of paisley cotton shorts with a jacquard polka dot shirt and a navy crested blazer with a tie and polka pocket square, literally the epitome of Nick Graham‘s Class of 2017. Sported by the tennis player and charming model, Drew Hanley.
Both a pink and yellow hued floral set of shirts, unbuttoned for the philandering vibe, were easy translations to retail, given their effortless ease and eye soothing attractiveness.
As a hopeless romantic for three piece suits, the two that caught my eye started a baby blue windowpane suit by the charming Sebastian Suave, who showed how the casual color could be prepped up with contrasting accessories. Plus, a Pantone color of the year.
And next was a Cuban colored brown plaid suit by the effortlessly charming Franky Cammarata, who I had thus far only seen in underwear at Bench/Body and Thorsun. With his friendly vibe, he lent personality to the straight-off-the-plane-to-party vibe that he was relaying to the lively crowds.
A skull printed sarong and a skull print cotton suit (sans shirt, mind you, and with a rope for a belt) were also intriguing takes on post-prep wear that showcased how to pair juxatposing blazers with wraparounds, or without shirts altogether. Both spoke volumes of the charisma and character of their adorners, too.
There were several other suits in blues and blacks, particularly sky blues and whites, promising for a bright skied summer, along with blue camo jackets for chilly nights, and even more thin cotton shirts with matching abs.
The plethora of looks often got lost in a chaos of dancers, musicians and celebrities, showcasing why personality is evidently more important than style. And rightfully so, making Nick Graham’s presentation my favorite of NYFWM. Also as one of the only designers to make me like camo: on a jacket in indigo, and on a thin scarf on the gentleman undercover from India!
The popular Frankie Grande made a debut with his usual elastic swagger, alongside everyone’s next door favorite River Viiperi, previously seen at Thorsun and last season’s collection sporting redbirds in his nest.
And of course, the finale was a spectacle, with the dancers and models shimmying on the dance floor, way past show closing, reminding onlookers that it was simply an accurate recreation of the Havana in the daylight!
With a dose of Cuban nightlife and a closet full of ideas and inspiration, I instinctively pulled out my phone, reminding myself that unlike 1950, I could easily book a ticket and fly away fairly promptly. Ciao!