Patrik Ervell's windfall from the Ecco Domani fashion prize gave him
the opportunity to, as he put it, "flesh things out." One noted a new
self-consciousness in the designer's work (clothes are now stamped
with the season and the name of the style), but any apprehensions
longtime fans might have had about the compromise of Ervell's
signature subtlety were allayed by a setting that was stark yet
spiritual: a studio on the West Side Pier with sunlight streaming
through clouds of frankincense and myrrh, with Glenn Branca on the
sound track. "Insistently modern, but not cold," was how Ervell
described the music.
He could equally have been talking about his clothes. Like his most
interesting peers, he has taken to the notion of "American" tailoring
as an antidote to Europe's "grotesque and precious" inclinations. That
made for a larger, more generous, unstructured silhouette, with
sleeves rolled back on jackets and soft, slightly dropped shoulders.
Ervell's "American" trench had a storm flap, shirred wrists, and no
epaulettes or belt ("not so precious and dainty" is the way he put
it). His research in the New York Public Library yielded a boxy
wrapped jacket derived from the hanten coat of Japanese laborers. (Ervell tapered the kimono sleeve to make it more agreeable to
Occidentals.) Such general generosity allowed the designer to layer
clothes in intriguing ways: nylon jackets worn under alpaca cardigans,
say, or artfully unstructured blazers.