Vanity Fair Fashion Director Michael Roberts Says American Men’s Wear is ‘O.K., But a Bit Weak’

"If it’s Fashion Week, then I must have another book out!" said Vanity Fair fashion and style director Michael Roberts on Friday, Feb. 13, at the Madison Avenue Roberto Cavalli store. He wasn’t exaggerating: His latest, Fighters and Flowers, is a collaboration with Mr. Cavalli, who had thrown a party in honor of the book’s publication.

Much like Mr. Roberts’ book that come out during last fashion week—the one in which an almost-nude male model played shepherd and wore sheepskin by Dolce & GabbanaFighters and Flowers is an oversize book of photographs featuring beautiful male models doing masculine things while wearing feminine floral prints designed by Mr. Cavalli.

"The prints on the clothes were photographs by Roberto which he turned into prints and it just reminded me so much of what I see in Brazil. So I said, ‘I have an idea, why don’t I take the clothes to Brazil and see what I can do with them,’" Mr. Roberts told the Daily Transom. "Art could be interpreted as very difficult for men to wear—you know, covered in flowers and leaves. I thought that maybe I could find a solution by showing all these very tough guys in that kind of situation and that kind of atmosphere."

Nearby, a very tan Mr. Cavalli, dressed in jeans, a blazer and large sunglasses, was kissing the hands of female guests and signing copies of the book for Top Chef judge and cookbook author Padma Lakshmi and model Poppy Delevigne.

"Yes. I like very much," said Mr. Cavalli in his heavy Italian accent. "Just before I say to Michael, ‘Maybe we have to start something more together, more with my photos because I like a lot.’ We are in the same planet, Michael and I—the fashion planet."

Mr. Cavalli saw Vogue’s creative director Grace Coddington and moved towards her to say hello. They engaged in a conversation about cats—it turned out they both owned several.

"I’m a big fan of Michael’s," Ms. Coddington told the Daily Transom after Mr. Cavalli drifted off. "He’s an odd one because somehow here in America people are good at one thing. And he’s good at so many things—writing, drawing, being a fashion editor, taking photos."

Ms. Coddington said she has been very selective about the shows she plans to attend; on Friday, the first day of Fashion Week, she only made it out to Rag & Bone, which she thought sent out a much better collection than last season.

"Every season I am still excited by [Fashion Week.] I’ve been in the business for such a long time and people are always saying ‘You must be bored by now.’ But if I was bored I’d step out," said Ms. Coddington. "You have to be excited about it. The shows are the fodder that I will feed off of for the next six months. It doesn’t even matter if they’re good or bad. It’s another whole restart, refresh, begin, relook, so I’m always very excited."

But Mr. Roberts seemed more excited about the European men’s wear shows than the ones currently showing in New York.

"I saw Ducky Brown today. I think the men’s wear here is O.K., but it’s a bit weak," he said. (Mr. Roberts said he more often finds inspiration for his work at the Milan and Paris shows.) But he will still be checking out the New York shows over the next week to see if one of our designers might have what he’s looking for.

"If I find clothes that work in my fashion work, I’m very excited. If I don’t find it, I get very depressed," said Mr. Roberts. "Generally I formulate ideas I want to do before I go to the fashion shows. And then it’s simply a question of looking for what will fill that idea. I don’t go to fashion shows looking for ideas from designers. I mean I’m sure they have great ideas, but they’re not very interesting as far as I’m concerned because I have my own ideas." Vanity Fair Fashion Director Michael Roberts Says American Men’s Wear is ‘O.K., But a Bit Weak’