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Luxury Sweats and Colorblocking: A Love, Frank Menswear Report from NYFW

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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.


Carlos Campos, Michael Bastian, Loden Dager

Another Fashion Week has drawn to a close and frankly, there's not a lot to say about the menswear shows. In menswear, and especially throughout this latest round of shows, things are pretty static. Suits are still quite slim and often quite cropped (Tim Hamilton, Simon Spurr)—with exceptions from labels like Duckie Brown and Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Bold color and colorblocking—still all over the runway (and especially delicious at Carlos Campos), still generally not all over Main Street USA (unless I'm in town). Fur—it's unavoidable. Coyote-lined shearling at Joseph Abboud and nutria skinny scarves at Billy Reid being the very tip of the iceberg. Finally, of course, god is still very much in the details—think contrast cargo pockets on Loden Dager pants, and embroidered whatsits on Michael Bastian's cords.

There is a bit of news, however: It's now officially okay to wear luxury sweats to fashion shows. I am not down with this but, apparently, several of my menswear show colleagues are. Also, the new goofy fashion sneaker brand is New Balance, as this past week everyone and their dad had them on, in all their orthopedic, sensible glory. My assumption was that Opening Ceremony had launched a collaboration or that J.Crew had begun carrying the brand. The latter proved correct. Also: Brad Goreski has my Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton dream scarf.

But that's more than enough about what was going on in the audience—Fashion Week is about the clothes!

Intarsia knits are having a moment—sweaters featuring knit-in geometric chevron motifs at Simon Spurr gave way to Michael Bastian's cavalcade of puppy pullovers and scarves. Likewise pieced, color-blocked garments, including contrast waistbands on Carlos Campos suiting; paneled coats at Simon Spurr, Robert Geller and Tommy Hilfiger; and a pretty magnificent camel and navy cardigan at Loden Dager. The piece in question giving the impression of two different sweaters being split from collar to waistband before being incorrectly pieced back together. Want!


Patrik Ervell, Robert Geller, General Idea

The idea of fun seems to be on its way out. Take for instance mega-brand Tommy Hilfiger and hard-to-find-here Korean streetwear brand General Idea. Back in September, both lines showed joyous spring collections chock full of glorious, whimsically-striped everything. Last week both showed fall—and the collections were much more somber. Tommy provided a litany of navy and burgundy solids, very British tailoring, very military—and, to be sure, very full of lovely individual pieces. But the whole collection? Kind of mundane, very heavy. Meanwhile, General Idea's aesthetic was more varsity athlete and peppered with a series of only slightly-skewed traditional basics (the quilted coat, the long john, the rugby, lots of down-filled things). The effect was still charming—but much less joyous.

Odd layerings and plays on volume happened across the board. Your fathers and grandfathers would never wear a waist-length coat and certainly never a vest over a suit or blazer. It might create the impression of not owning a proper overcoat; it would've have appeared unseemly, cheap, what have you. That sense of propriety is no more. Flip through any menswear slideshow and you'll see what I mean—pop a cropped peacoat, a quilted vest, a moto, a bomber, hell, even a cape over that suit! It's all fair game. One example: Robert Geller (who improved upon spring immensely—toning down the Lanvin homage, showing oodles of glorious outerwear and playing with gorgeous shots of rust and burnt orange).

The biggest WTF: Patrik Ervell. Where did those odd bits of gold trim and Greco-Roman pattern come from? I mean, some people are into that—Versace is still kicking; likewise Dolce & Gabbana. But Patrik Ervell? Just strange; and unconvincing considering it only appeared on two or three looks. If you're gonna make something like that a thing, why not own it? Pop it on everything. More is more.

News: Band of Outsiders is back in New York after a season (or two?) in Milan. Didn't know this until after the fact, wasn't there—but if I need to get a look I can just head to Crew Cuts. Also: No Perry Ellis show this season; but the label will head back to the tents in September, showing a new designer signature collection created by the Duckie Brown boys—big news for both labels.

Finally: Good for Billy Reid. Congrats on the upgrade to having a proper runway show. The place was packed; the menswear was beautiful (if predictable). And, the show music? Highlight of the week. Dark, strummy and sort of southern gothic—we caught Jack White's brand new solo single "Love Interruption" and "Scars," a haunting 2009 album track by Joe Henry.

Now peace out, Fashion Week. The Barneys Warehouse Sale is go!

· Love, Frank [Racked]