Michael Bastian made his mark on menswear by designing clothes that were so All-American that he ushered in a new menswear movement. In what seemed like a nanosecond, the blogosphere and every men’s mag had Hedi Slimane slim suits and severe European tailoring in the rear view and buffalo plaids, chambray work shirts and Ivy League staples on their radar. So leave it to the harbinger of Americana to draw from one of the country’s most beloved artists for his collection for Gant.
For Fall 2013, Bastian took iconic Norman Rockwell pieces and brought them to life — the two dimensional paintings that inspired some of the pieces hung right alongside the models during his presentation at the The Art Students League of New York, which just so happens to be Rockwell’s alma mater. Rockwell is best known for painting images of everyday life in America, from guys at a diner counter to family meals around the dining room table.
But Bastian looked closer at the men that the paintings depicted and drew from their clothes to create a collection of back-to-basics staples that every guy will want for his own closet. A blue checked shirt and moleskin varsity jacket come straight from Rockwell’s Freedom of Speech and paintings of kids playing basketball inspired a tank top emblazoned with the number 23 and a jacket that draws from a baseball jersey. Bastian credited the post-war feel of the ’40s and ’50s for the looks, which blend military influences such as cargo pockets with Ivy League sweaters and menswear basics. But modernizing the pieces was the key to the collection, which might look vintage, but fits the way modern guys like to dress. And to add one more twist to the mix, Bastian’s fashion presentation featured painters from the school illustrating each model’s Rockwell-inspired getup. Perhaps those very paintings will inspire a whole new collection of menswear in the decades to come.
Images courtesy Michael Bastian