Michael Bastian Fall/Winter 2014 NYC

By Lauren Sherman
Michael Bastian spent a lot of time in Tokyo last year. “I’ve been thinking about Japan for a while,” the designer said in his West Side Highway studio a day before taking to the runway. More specifically, he’d been thinking about how Japanese men—in particular, the editors and buyers who travel to Florence’s famous Pitti Uomo tradeshow—take Italian, English, and American design references to another level. “They draw from the best of each culture and make it look even better,” he said. “Team Japan is nailing it.”

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So, while Fall 2014 was very much about “American luxury” for Bastian—although, when isn’t it?—he was looking at those ideas through a Japanese lens. “Reverse Take Ivy,” he said, alluding to the book of photographs of Ivy League students by Teruyoshi Hayashida. Bastian wanted the nods to Japan to be subtle. In general, they weren’t, but that didn’t detract. A sporty zip-up sweater with Mount Fuji knitted on the back and a windbreaker made out of a dragon-embroidered vintage kimono fabric might have been literal, but they were also just the things one of those Pitti street-style stars would wear. As was a burgundy turtleneck that took thirty days to hand-knit and -bead. The Fair Isle part of the sweater was made of 150 Japanese Edo-period coins, 140 aventurine beads, eighty jade beads, and more than 600 other tiny pieces. The charm of the collection was in the details, whether it was the orange grosgrain that lined the seams of a pair of slippers designed in collaboration with Stubbs & Wootton, the tiny ribbon made out of kimono fabric fastened to the lapel of the blazers, or the fire-breathing monster stitched on a cashmere sweater.

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