To many, he may not be a household name but New Yorker Michael Bastian is drawing ever-increasing acknowledgement.
As a fashion figure, Bastian is growing in stature and last year was voted CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Menswear Designer of the Year. Recent collaborations with GANT and sunglasses brand Randolph Engineering also seem to suggest that the debonair American is venturing into popular fashion culture.
His personal style oozes laissez faire, with just a hint of tailored elegance. There is effortlessness to the way Bastian carries himself, and his outfit decisions and sense of dress seem to reflect that.
When I think of Michael Bastian’s personal style the first words that spring to mind are ‘relaxed tailoring’ – a topic that has been discussed at FashionBeans in the past, and no doubt will feature again.
There is also a quirky charm to his choices. One outfit that springs to mind was a red carpet outfit consisting of a black evening jacket and bow tie teamed with pastel orange chinos [shown in the lookbook below]. If you were looking to mirror the signature Bastian look, you should try working smart tailoring with more relaxed pieces.
This American designer seems to enjoy meeting sartorial classicism with colourful and quirky head on – in both his own looks and in his collections. If you are not already aware of the personal style of the man himself already, then let me enlighten you:
“Through the process of setting the men’s fashion direction for Bergdorf Goodman, it became increasingly clear to me that there was a real need for a new American voice in the men’s designer world – something modern and luxurious, but also a little broken down and familiar. I start with something perfectly designed and executed, then spend a lot of time knocking the edge off of that perfection.”
For me, the colours, layering and textures of his work are a melting pot of classic English tailoring, European flair and relaxed Americana.
Looking specifically at his most recent collection (autumn/winter 2012), there is a richness of colour and a focus on clever texturing, as well as impeccably tailored silhouettes throughout.
Even though we ourselves are technically in spring/summer mode, there is still vibrancy in this particular collection that, in a way, can transcend seasons. If you take a look at the catwalk show below, I think you will see what I mean.
Bastian called his show, ‘The Extra Man’, a reference to the New York sub-culture of “extra men”. These men were called upon by polite society to make up the numbers at dinner parties and public events. They were charming and well dressed individuals who would escort other men’s wives to various functions when the husband could not be bothered himself.
“Everybody wanted to sit by them… To me, it feels like this great New York phenomenon. I just love walking around the Upper East Side and seeing those guys who didn’t take an extra 10 minutes in the morning to get ready, but an extra 40 minutes. This is a kind of valentine to them.”
These men had a hint of dandy about them, and these peacock elements – when mixed with Bastian’s love of layers, colour and tailored masculinity – make for a very interesting collection.
There is a tailored dishevelment to Bastian’s collections that mirror the man himself and indeed his own views on style. Here I have put together two distinct Bastian inspired outfits for you to take inspiration from.
Here we pair a sharp tailored double breasted blazer with relaxed coloured chinos in order to create that clashing of formal and casual that Bastian is so renowned for. Blue and red tones will always be a winning combination, whilst the addition of the navy loafers makes a subtle statement and ties the top and bottom half together effortlessly. Make sure you leave the socks at home and cuff your trousers to really channel that American Prep look that is so sought after.
The Oxford shirt has pride of place within the designer’s wardrobe and collections, especially in Preppy pastel colours and stripes. This version by Topman consists of a blue and orange mix, picking out the dominant base colour of the outfit and simultaneously injecting another that complements every other element.
This is a look that is perfect for the spring/summer season, especially those that like to dress well on a daily basis – no matter what the weather. Again we have the clashing of formal and casual, this time opting for a brown brogue to contrast against the casual beige shorts and compliment the sharper navy blazer.
We inject some colour and life into the look through the bold striped pastel shirt, which oozes relaxed Americana. This outfit can be transformed into something much more casual by losing the blazer, rolling the sleeves up and unbuttoning a few buttons on the shirt. In terms of accessories, Bastian’s penchant for relaxed webbing belts and tortoiseshell frames will set you on the right path.
Michael Bastian is – by no means – a sartorial rookie. Having previously worked for Tiffany and Co, Sotheby’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Polo Ralph Lauren, he is a designer with luxury in his blood. He is a bastion (sorry) of all-American preppy menswear and, dare-we-dub, the one to watch.
So what do you think?
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