The presentations that Scott Sternberg has staged for Band of Outsiders are legendary by now—there was the time he created an actual beach, replete with water and sand, for instance—so it was inevitable he'd bring a little stagecraft to his first-ever runway show. His outing today comprised all three of the lines under the Band of Outsiders umbrella—the original menswear Band, the menswear-inspired women's line Boy, and the more feminine Girl, launched last season—and it opened with a bit of derring-do, as Band of Outsiders-clad male models rappelled from the ceiling. That was a nod to Sternberg's original inspiration this season, the book The Stonemasters and its images of seventies-era California rock climbers. Before the show, Sternberg said that The Stonemasters invited a more general contemplation of bygone California, land of stoner princesses and hippie communes, and then those influences pinballed around a little more, dinging Yoko Ono and Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club along the way.
Which is to say, Sternberg trod lightly on his references. There were sporty and bohemian motifs throughout the collections, notably French terry sweats and anoraks, blanket wool (tailored into jackets and draped into ponchos) and Native American-inspired graphics knit into sweaters. But the essence of the Band and Boy collections was still preppy. For the men, there was no shortage of punctiliously cut suits and college stripes. And for the ladies, well, Sternberg's floor-length fur peacoat in deep-dyed navy is what girls who graduate from Choate get to wear if they're good and go to heaven when they die. In short, these were identifiably Band collections, with the signature Sternberg fastidiousness at work, but California-ness infected the clothes with a new—and welcome—sense of freedom.
What was really interesting to see, though, was the evolution of Girl, and the runway-show format helped to draw a line from that collection to the others. Where Band and Boy are tailored, Girl is drapey, but the newest line spoke to the others in a way it didn't last season. A foulard print used in all three lines appeared in Girl on a floaty wool twill maxi dress, for instance, and the line's floral dresses and peasant-inspired blouses and bloomers were easy to imagine ringed around a campfire alongside the Band/Boy blanket-wool pieces. Sternberg does seem to struggle with feminine proportions—a long floral shirtdress, for example, looked a little off—but he's gotten the sense of Girl right. The clothes had an appealing softness.
Indeed, there was something appealingly easy about all these clothes, even the ones most studied in their detail. Fittingly, given the source material, Band of Outsiders felt genuinely mellow.