Young Americans

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Patrik Ervell by Shawn Brackbill for Dazed Digital

America’s legacy to fashion is that it instituted utility, minimalism, comfort, and ultimately modernity into 20th century dress . From Levi Strauss, to Claire McCardell, to Halston, it is a legacy with a breadth that extends from the most humble to the most extravagant. It has culled an aesthetic free of excess and the unnecessary — leaving only the essential. And perhaps it hasn’t been since Halston designed ease into the lifestyles of the rich and famous, or perhaps when Miuccia Prada, Helmut Lang, and Jil Sander reprised his sparseness in the early 90’s, that this truly American position on dress has been taken up and pushed ahead…

Menswear has consistently taken inspiration from military uniforms and workwear, and New York designer Patrik Ervell has followed this spirit intimately. But since he began in 2006 he has struck a different chord; renouncing the reference as a cause for snaps, tabs, zips, pockets, and patches to over-embellish a garment, he has instead sought clarity in their utility. Ervell has built a repertoire on pieces initially designed for a specific function removed from any dated cultural reference, Their focused and purposeful design informing his more formal suiting and shirting ranges. Any historical references escape nostalgia and in fact become futurist expressions as their design is adapted to address the needs and dreams of our contemporary lives.

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Patrik Ervell, Fall 2010

You could see the 50,000 dollars that Ervell had won from the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund award in his fall 2010 collection. The tailoring was keener, the details were finessed, and everything had the luxury of full consideration that so few independent designers enjoy. As a result Ervell’s vision was clearer than it had ever been. Relying on fabric and proportion, he seemingly edited out all the dross of the past 10 years, all the baggage, all the affectations of the noughties, and left us suits, jackets, coats, and shirts perfectly stripped down to match the lightness in our shoulders as we brace for the next decade and attempt to start fresh – uncannily contemporary, startlingly timeless, and assuredly American.

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Matthew Ames, Fall 2010

Matthew Ames has been pondering with the idea of minimalism for a few seasons now, but it hasn’t been until Fall 2009 that New York was able to serve witness to this insight. Ames is a rare designer, his work, unlike most darlings of the NYC fashion circuit, has ignored any popular idea of femininity, coolness, or salability. Working in the exalted tradition of some of America’s greatest designers such as Valentina, Geoffrey Beene, and Zoran, Ames has pursued a nobler and that much more unique approach to clothes. His M.O. is to work with the most exquisite fabrics and through carefully planned geometry allow them to sit effortlessly on the body, no fuss. His fall 2010 collection saw him take on the basic components of a wardrobe: jackets, trousers, t-shirts, — and it saw him take his ideas to menswear. It was only two looks but it was enough to understand that although ascetic, Ames’ clothes are grand. They eschew the world and its drama just as we seek to eschew it as well. This is not a statement of nihilism, but one of optimism and having the presence of mind to know when to step away from the mess in order to move on from it.

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