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A Wintry Summer and Four New Camos: 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.


Winter is the New Spring: John Bartlett, Todd Snyder, Billy Reid, Duckie Brown

Another Fashion Week has come and gone; and with it, there's a brand new slew of themes and trends and trendlets in menswear. Will they happen? How long will they last? Who knows! But, we can certainly identify them; and talk about them in circles until we're all sick of the conversation. At which point we'll be about to cruise through the Fall/Winter shows and getting ready to do it all over again.

Duckie Brown opened a week's worth of men's shows last Thursday. It was the hottest day ever and the show was held in a blindingly lit, sun-filled loft space. Between the sunshine and the weather I subconsciously expected teensy shorts and linen. Rather, the show was built around color-rich hard denim, plush scarlet tartans and blown out madras patterns in washed-out holiday colors neutralized by, amongst all those old world plaids, what can only be referred to as winter white. And there it was: Winter as Summer. Apparently—and despite global warming—we're all to spend next spring and summer dressed for the ski slopes.

General Idea, logger-themed, featured quilted vests, long layers, and shit-kicking hiking boots. Tim Coppens showed high collared racing jackets, pieced leather and head-to-toe rich indigo. J.Crew, Joseph Abboud, Billy Reid, John Barlett and Todd Snyder included the types of heathered and melange fabrics—both knits and woven (shirts and suiting)—typically associated with cold weather garments.


Beige on Beige: Duckie Brown, Perry Ellis by Duckie Brown, Parke & Ronin, Billy Reid

Which brings us back to winter white. Any fan of Frasier (or bored TV watcher too lazy to switch from the Hallmark Channel) remembers a scene in which the title character and his fastidious brother Niles discuss various shades of white carpeting ("Tofu, putty, oatmeal ... Almond, harvest wheat ... And buff."). The conversation could easily be applied to this past Fashion Week. Take Reid's and Perry Ellis by Duckie Brown. Both collections were fashioned almost entirely in colors like ivory, oat, bone, stone and taupe. Other collections, as disparate as Antonio Azzuolo and Joseph Abboud; Carlos Campos and John Bartlett; Timo Weiland and Duckie Brown, featured significant vignettes of colors white to soft sand to muted gray. Some designers popped their whites: mustard (which is becoming the eternal trend color—fine by me) and aquamarine by Campos; cobalt at Abboud; washed out sweet reds and leaf greens at Michael Bastian; coral and bittersweet at Parker & Ronin. And, yet, aside from all those white and newly made-basic mustard, no single color stood out.


Monochrome: Joseph Abboud, Tim Coppens, Timo Weiland, Carlos Campos

What did stand out were the onslaught of head to toe monotone looks. Campos used aqua and pool blue. Timo used salmon. Abboud and Coppens went with various shades of rich blue.


New Camo: J.Crew, Timo Weiland, Mark McNairy, General Idea

That said, print and pattern will continue to be massive—the Dries effect, if you will. Mark McNairy featured printed and woven dots in varying scales alongside matching macro- and micro-ginghams. Both Marc by Marc Jacobs and Abboud utilized printed checks on shirting—the former a cheerful, wobbly gingham; the latter a striated, inky windowpane. As for camouflage, take your pick: Timo, J.Crew, General Idea and McNairy featured new variations—be they graphic, blown out and painterly, cartoonish, or edged-down with printed daisies, respectively. This is to say nothing of all the textured suiting and knits; the intarsia-knit sweaters featuring razor blades and tiny giraffes (Bastian), Prada-esque medallion prints (Parke & Ronin), and traditional tapestry motifs in acid neon (Azzuolo).

Meanwhile, the new color-blocking is still color-blocking: Just in new shades or subtler contrast or—to unique effect—using opposing pattern or texture.


Stripes: Parke & Ronen, General Idea, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger

A blocked, alternating rugby stripe motif at General idea is a good example. And stripes, in general, continue to be a major player—at Marc by Marc, Park & Ronen and elsewhere. Stripe Central, however, had to have been Tommy Hilfiger's show. Yes, it's basically a straight-up rehash of the brand's Spring '12 show. But that isn't a bad thing. And all those double breasted jackets with nautical banding serve another purpose: A touch of Simon Spurr in a Fashion Week without a Simon Spurr show. The designer left his eponymous label but remains a consultant at Tommy—and it shows.

In other news: That first Perry Ellis by Duckie Brown show certainly made waves on-line—I can't wait to see who carries it and what prices are like! And J.Press finally did something they should've done years ago. They're launching a slim-fitting, potentially competitively priced, trend-based but still preppy contemporary line. It's called J.Press York Street; it's designed by the duo behind Ovadia & Sons; and it's adorable. Also, the presentation afforded me the chance to sip a Pimms cup under a portrait of Bill Clinton at the Yale Club. Awesome.


Big Pants: Billy Reid, Duckie Brown, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Bastian

Anyway, and as for shape—did you see all those huge pants? Bastian's were merely slouchy. Marc by Marc and Reid went billowy. Duckie Brown created high fashion JNCOs with eight inch cuffs. These are not your Thom Browne trousers. Other silhouette tidbits: Shorts seems baggier; bathing suits keep getting littler; and I'm digging the fitted but not-super-skinny suits at Billy Reid.


Obsessed: Tim Coppens, Tommy Hilfiger, Carlos Campos, Mark McNairy

And, if I may: my Obsessed List. That striped Tommy Suit is a neutral on neutral version of the blue and white Simon Spurr suit from two years ago that I want to get married in. Now I'll need both (who doesn't need a wardrobe change between ceremony and reception?) Every polka-dotted thing McNairy sent down the runway will (or at least should) be mine. That matchy matchy tailored trouser and Barracuta-style jacket set in red tartan at Duckie Brown? Perfection, together or separate. And can we talk about Tim Coppens? I mean, I can't be the only person who pines for man-sized Celine? Is Tim Coppens here to help fill that void with his collection of subtle color-blocking, stream-lined detailing and not-to-chilly minimalism? Because I'll take all of it! And when Campos had little random stars printed on slim mustard slacks moment, I feel like he had to have been thinking of me.

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· Love, Frank [Racked]