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GQ Celebrates Best New Menswear Designers in America

Renata Espinosa
January 31st, 2008 @ 4:52 PM - New York

When it comes to menswear, it's all about the details. How a designer reinterprets the staples in a gent’s wardrobe - be it a suit jacket, a pair of pants, a shirt – subtle elements, like whether the pants are narrow or baggy, pocket placement or the type of button used are just some of the things that distinguish one collection from another.

Several rising stars in the U.S. menswear category are reinventing the classics in notable ways, and to recognize these up-and-coming talents, GQ and the Council of Fashion Designer of America (CFDA) established the “Best New Menswear Designers in America” project. Six finalists – Engineered Garments, Gilded Age, Obedient Sons, Rag and Bone, Spurr and Steven Alan – were selected by GQ.

One winner will receive a $50,000 prize and will have the chance to design a limited edition collection for Levi’s.

To celebrate the finalists as well as to offer a peek at each of the six designers Fall 2008 collections, GQ and CFDA hosted a fete on Wednesday, Jan. 30, kicking off fashion week in New York with a flurry of flannel, tweed and chunky knits.

The party, held in a raw, unfinished space in a building just off Rockefeller Center, included a sampling of looks from each collection modeled by a remarkably resilient group of 54 models, who stood in a long row for the duration of the two-hour party.

At Engineered Garments, it was turn-of-the-century hunter chic-meets-rail riding hobo, with thick grey tweedy flannel pants and overalls, red plaid shirts, argyle zip sweaters, with a baggier, military-inspired silhouette.

Spurr focused on tailored, more traditional menswear, with a casual twist. A black pinstriped wool three-piece suit looked sharp with narrow ciagarette pants, while in another look, similar pinstriped pants paired with a vest in gray plaid topped by a black oiled cotton touring jacket combined sporty with dressy in a realistic way. A black leather jacket was given a scale-like texture with a scalloped quilting effect to update a tough motorcycle jacket.

Steven Alan's collection consisted of well-constructed casual menswear with a few dressier ideas thrown in, again a well-composed reflection of how young guys might actually style a look themselves. A blazer and a button down shirt got paired with denim, while a suit was prevented from looking too stuffy by the addition of a parka as an overcoat. Bold primary colors, like a narrow yellow plaid button-down and quirky striped knit scarf felt youthful, as did chunky fisherman sweaters and chino pants in navy or charcoal gray.

The Fall 2008 collection from edgy brand Obedient Sons felt like a weekend holiday at a British country house mixed with a bit of nouveau grunge: tweed or gray plaid skinny pants looked like a more structured version of a pair of long johns. Here, details shone, like side pockets with flaps that could be buttoned up, or jodphur pants complete with inner knee guards. A shrunken gray jacket with narrow white lapel was YSL-meets-schoolboy in the library.

By contrast, Gilded Age looked well suited for a weekend trip to the Great White North with Bob and Doug McKenzie in tow. Call it utilitarian coal miner, with chunky fisherman sweaters, crinkled plaid flannel shirts and baggy denim, finished off with a workwear boots.

Rag and Bone featured the most old school, classic tailoring of the group, with several smart-looking three-piece suits, including a particularly sharp brown tweed with double-breasted vest. Casual for Rag and Bone meant Ivy League prep - sportswear for the high-end dandy.

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