"Titan," the title Patrik Ervell gave his latest show, could be read two ways. Ervell said he was inspired by the new titans of industry—tech tycoons like the late Steve Jobs, whose work uniform tended toward mock turtleneck rather than collar and tie. The sleek functionality of Ervell's clothing makes a twenty-first-century work uniform.
And maybe a twenty-third-century work uniform, too. There's always been something a little sci-fi about Ervell's fabrics: Here, a rubberized cotton, developed especially for him, was cut into outerwear that, with the addition of Ervell's new "corporate" insignia, looked like the leisurewear of a starship trooper. That high-performance stuff fascinates him. He was keen to emphasize the breathable membrane that lined his suits and dress pants. "It's better than silk," he enthused. And yet, at the same time, Ervell was rhapsodizing about his real silk shirts, in a heavy matte black douppioni.
The formality of such pieces in this context was significant, because they were so traditional. There has always been a restrained sartorial precision in Ervell's collections, but he's increasingly looked to express it in pure performance sportswear, which has created a tension between the conventional and the radical. And that, in turn, has created some interesting clothes. This collection was no exception, with one glaring misstep. Ervell reconceptualized the fur coat, emblem of the traditional robber-baron business titan, in teddy bear fleece by Steiff, which was then airbrushed by an artist friend of the designer's. Conceptually cute, but it's just as well they were showpieces, because their dry, crunchy texture was quite off-putting.