“Hello! I love your paper!” Michael Bastian’s warm greeting was more than we’d expect to hear from the fashion star at his own presentation for GANT by Michael Bastian. Though he was encircled by handlers and a pack of press wolves, the smiling, silver-haired designer projected the charm and ease of a dinner party host sending off his guests. His blue sweater and collared shirt fit right in with his models in preppy, primary-colored sweaters, trench coats, striped shirts, and checkered sunglasses, who chatted and bounced on pedestals to the Scissor Sisters.
The centerpiece, complete with old street lamps and steady drifts of fake snow, was staged before black-and-white geometric patterns and footage of New York street scenes on the gallery’s back wall. Long after the last ice cube had melted in our Vodka-grape juice-ginger ale, The Observer finally got a word in…
“What’s wrong with the way men dress in New York?” we wanted to know.
“There’s nothin’ wrong with the way men dress in New York!” exclaimed Mr. Bastian.
“Absolutely nothing, you wouldn’t change a thing?”
“Well… New York’s a big city [laughs]. If we have to go case-by-case…”
“You had a most-wanted list of society bachelors in the back of your run-of-show…”
“It was just kind of a funny idea. There was this secret list of guys who any dinner hostess in New York could just slide into a party, once you needed to kind of balance it out…and I just loved that idea, that these guys are so well-dressed, and so charming, and keep the ball in the air, tell a dirty joke, and everybody wants to sit next to them…so kind of like this self-selected, amazing group of guys. And it was from 1974.”
“Where did you get it from?”
“We were doing research on this idea of extra men, and it was a New York Times article from 1974. And these hostesses kind of just laid it out, like these are the guys we like.”
“So it was official!”
“It was official!”
“So, who’s on your most desirable list?
“Of guuuys? [Laughs] Well, that could be taken a lot of ways…wow. That’s…who? You know what, right now we’re in this crazy moment of celebrity and celebrity stylists, and I never quite bought into that paid-for style, like they’re kind of told to ‘wear this.’ I’m always much more inspired by random people on the street. I live down by NYU and The New School, and I’d almost say close your eyes and pull a student out, and they’re gonna be a little bit cooler than the average celebrity. You know, here I am, him for the common man.”
Michael’s loud and sincere chuckle was delightfully goofy… “But I believe that,” he added.
“I’ve got to say, you have a very worldly charm about you.”
“Well, the whole phenomenon of paying a celebrity to come to your show and wear your clothes– what’s the fun in that?”
“Any fashion week headaches?”
“No, it actually went really smoothly this time. Nothing to complain about! I can’t wait for it to be over, but honestly…” Mr. Bastian thought hard, and added, “We had a dog in our show, and my big nightmare that that dog was gonna freak out or turn and run, but he did his job. When you’re a designer, you don’t sleep for a week before, and you think, ‘okay, that pant’s gonna rip up the ass, and he’s not gonna have the right color underwear on…’ But it went really well.”
“And if you had to wear one other New York designer, who would you choose?”
“Well, this is the weird thing about menswear; it’s such a small world, that they’re all my buddies. So I’m friends with Thom Browne, and Simon Spurr, and Scott from Band of Outsiders, and Adam Kimmel– actually, we’re all in the same building, or we are in the same building, for the most part…”