Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dapper Distillations: Calvin Klein's Runway Show

Haute couture doesn't do much for the average Joe in the United States, particularly in D.C., adopted home of the power suit.  Hell, it doesn't do much for the average Giuseppe in the relatively fashion-forward Italy.  Calvin Klein's New York Fashion Week runway show was a standard demonstration of this high-culture-versus-everyday-wear gap.

However, I think you can divine a couple of good ideas from the show.

First, look for classic shapes and patterns made out of unexpected materials.  (One exception: leather.)  Most of us downtown, myself included, have a basic single-breasted overcoat with smooth wool in black or gray.  Nothing fancy, but functional.  One of Mr. Klein's offerings was a coat matching just that silhouette and color but in a quilted and ribbed sort of material.  In 20 years, at a distance, that coat will still look classic, and up close, it will be full of character.

Second, off-center zippers, on a sweater, for example.  I like the asymmetrical look because it lets us stick with classic silhouettes (are you sensing a pattern?) but play with the up-close perspective.  It's also a real-life application of photography's Rule of Threes for guiding your viewer's attention.

Third, interesting collars.  Again, as regards the plain overcoat, if you've ever been tempted to flip up the collar for looks and/or warmth, what's stopping you from a slightly more warm/peacockish coat?  A little exposed fastening hardware at the throat can make for a dashing bit of shiny without changing the fact that it is obvious that you are wearing an otherwise-standard overcoat.

In short, take a classic look and change a few of the components' materials, and see what happens.

The video is here if you want to review the source material yourself.

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