Patrick Bateman, investment banker by day, American Psycho by night. What on earth would possess Umit Benan, one of menswear's most thoughtful, compassionate souls, to select Bateman as the spur for his new collection? Well, Benan said he started off thinking about men who were literally crazy about themselves—the ego monsters who obsess about their jobs, their status, their health, their looks, the way the world perceives them—and up popped Bateman, Wall Street's favorite fictional boogie man.
But that starting point sparked subversion, rather than celebration. Benan imagined his own investment bank, populated by the bearded and the weird, the kind of men who'd never pass muster with high finance's human resources department. And he gave them his own twisted take on power dressing, staged in a hotel bar on models that included a plumber, a student, a chef, a shoe designer, and Benan's cousin from Istanbul. It was quite possibly the most inspired interpretation of menswear that Milan has seen all week.
Benan began with the most classic shapes and fabrics—the authoritative jacket in a houndstooth, the camel overcoat, the three-piece suit—and took them somewhere new. That suit, for instance, looked like a fine wool weave. It was actually printed. The jacket could be re-buttoned to create an entirely different effect from the conventional double-breasted one. There were trompe l'oeil oddities, like the banker stripe shirt with the attachment that looked like another shirt tied around the waist, and plays with proportion that saw waists high but lapels low. Knitwear was pearl-buttoned granddad cardies, ready-made hand-me-downs. "Only fashion victims will understand this," claimed Benan. What he was trying to say was that only connoisseurs who understood clothing would truly appreciate his sophisticated scenario. Ain't necessarily so—the proof is in the wearing, not the words.