The ski-bum subtext of Michael Bastian's latest collection was nostalgic, but it had nothing to do with the nostalgia for snow that gripped Europe's designers as they faced the warmest winter in years. Instead, he was dwelling on the gilded charmer who'd drop out of Dartmouth and head West to drink beer in hot tubs and fritter away a birthright on the ski slopes of Colorado. This hipster ne'er-do-well, a staple of the 1970s in Bastian's mind, gave the designer's collection an irresistibly graphic hook. Sure, he tipped his cap to the Tyrol with boiled cashmere sweaters and a military coat with embossed buttons, and he acknowledged the Andes with ethnic sweaters, scarves, and fingerless gloves, but the mountain range he loved most was clearly the Rockies. Meanwhile, the colors of a vintage BMW 2002 (bright green and yellow) loaned Bastian's sportswear a strong spine, and the designer's own Olin Mark IVs provided the startling orange that lined a safari jacket and colored a zipped cardigan (possibly one of the season's best buys). "Why don't people ski in jeans anymore ?" Bastian wondered prior to offering flannel chinos and herringbone tweed pants, primed for the most revisionist skiing or snowboarding.
Previously, Bastian had a curatorial approach to menswear that made his work a little too studied, but this season he cut loose. Maybe that was because the ski theme connected so closely with his own history. Or perhaps it was because the West gives a designer so much to work with (as Ralph Lauren well knows). Embroidered Western shirts, a reconstructed cowboy pant, and a lush double-breasted chocolate shearling combined fashion and frontier. Zip off its sleeves, and a fully reversible parka made a neat four outfits in one. And Bastian's après-ski (a corduroy printed-plaid jacket with black cotton lapel) offered the kind of sturdy, studly chic that could well become his signature.