The thing about showing menswear during New York fashion week is that by September, the collections—like their European counterparts—have already been sold. Stirrings to create a men's-only week (or weeklet) in the summer have, so far, come to naught. "Quite frankly, it drives the stores insane," said Michael Kors, who, like many of his compatriots, is opting off the runway and showing his menswear to editors and the industry at the same time as it sells—which is to say, now. Men's will come off the formerly coed MK runway in September, save for a few male-model "dates" to keep things flirty.
Giving the collection its own arena seems to have allowed Kors to ratchet up the fashion quotient. All-American sportswear might still be his bread and butter, but styled separately, the Spring line took on a more forward-looking elegance and seemed closer in line with the designer collections shown in Europe. Kors spoke of the idea of convergence and things blending: upscaling the casual, downscaling the luxe. That meant, in practice, that all of his suiting fabrics came pre-wrinkled, like pajamas, while sportier pieces, such as a white anorak, appeared in glove leather. To arrive at a look, he mashed up three of the collection's guiding spirits: Cary Grant, David Bowie, and Ryan Gosling—epitomes (to varying degrees) of masculine elegance. The spirit of the first two was most apparent. There was a vintage forties feel to the new silhouettes, which emphasized higher-waisted, pleated trousers with fuller legs.
Never one to waste a soapbox, Kors used his mini presentations to inveigh against menswear's present sins, as he sees them. "This is my anti-Bieber moment," he said, gesturing at a chino that sat at the natural waist. "It's one thing low-rise, another thing bare-assed. We're teaching men they have a waist." Likewise, his seventies-inflected double-breasted blazer with its giant lapels: "A DB for an entire generation of men who have never worn one."
That might highlight the odd position Kors finds himself in: poised between the American shopper and the high-fashion consumer. One might be in need of instruction, the other has presumably been wearing double-breasteds for some time. If showing in tandem with the European shows plays up the precariousness of that balance, it nevertheless gave Kors more opportunity than usual to show off his goods. The best of them were the most Kors-ian: a chunky knit of his own favorite kind, now in summer-friendly silk/linen; a forties-style bomber kept slim by an elastic waist at the back; and a series of glazed linen cargo pants that effectively gave a military staple a bit of finesse.