Friday, November 5, 2010
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending J. Crew's SS'11 presentation staged at Milk Studios in Chelsea, NYC. Layered up in a shawl neck sweater, Barbour, Bean booted and umbrella in hand, rain coming down pretty good, Spring couldn't have been further from my mind, but the collection got me pining for warm April days and just right, cool evenings.
Spring collections are tricky. They can verge on the minimal and underwhelming. Fall/Winter has all the fun, the simple fact being that there are more pieces to make, more to wear, heartier fabrics and textures to play with. Spring, it's just shorts and tees right? Not so in this case. J. Crew's Spring '11 collection is a playbook in new classics, old favorites, smart layering, crisp fabrics, textural and tonal mixing.
For Spring, Frank Muytjens and co. drew heavily from the rugged coast of Maine, the team in fact making a trip to Prouts Neck, just south of Portland, where American Painter Winslow Homer called home until his death in 1910. Inspired by Homer's paintings, the shifting hues of the sea and mixing rough with refined, the collection, always so extremely well edited and styled(by Frank and Jack of course. Jack's take, "It's fun and so easy when you have such a great selection to work from."), pairs beautiful indigos, greys and chalky whites. Mixes in a midnight blue tuxedo next to hand sewn patch work chinos. Refined work wear blazers. Nods to Irving Penn's 'Small Trades'. Subtle nautically inspired details throughout. The Fireman's jacket returns a bit longer(love those damn little clasps). Spring layers. Breton stripes. Great light duty anoraks. Covert cloth and marled cottons. Stand outs; Levis trucker beneath a wonderful looking hunting jacket. A two tone light weight indigo toggle coat. crazy stitch worked chino shorts and tonal vintage chino patch work. A pair of white canvas work pants. All Quoddy and Alden. No socks(many cold ankles in NY today). Superior Labor two tone indigo tote(now on my "to get" list). Metallic thread woven into a seersucker blazer to keep it rumpled just so. And the suiting. Frank wasn't nominated by GQ based on his good looks alone. He's refined J. Crew's suiting with trimmer silhouettes, attention to the details, durable, classic fabric selections and an understanding as to how a man should look and feel in a suit. (I've a worsted wool Ludlow and find myself inventing reasons to wear it).
There's an ease to this collection. It's sharp and a bit rakish. buttoned down yet untucked. It's a modern take on classic pieces without getting too precious about them. Clothes are for wearing and living in and with this Spring collection, J. Crew continues to do what they do best, mixing it up, editing and layering of texture, referencing the past, making clothes for a guy today, clean lines and rough edges, not over-thinking it.
I'm all for winter layers, and while the next few months will be spent under winter coats and scarves, boots and wool socks, Frank and his team already have me stoked on that first clear, Spring day. Seems like it was only yesterday.
Extremely well done to the gang at J. Crew. Have a look at photos from the event and backstage images of the 18 looks.
Also, THREAD/NY goes backstage to talk to Creative Director Jenna Lyons about the women's SS'11 presentation.