With the America's Cup being fiercely contested off San Francisco, the city where Patrik Ervell grew up, there was a certain logic to his latest collection taking sailing as its inspiration. Or maybe it was more significant that, as his show notes pointed out, sailing represents "the junction between technology and nature," long a founding principle of Ervell's work. "The uniform of the sailor is, in many ways, an ultimate image of man in union with nature," the designer claimed, a statement that perfectly nailed the curiously poetic spirit that nestles at the heart of his occasionally bone-dry aesthetic.
Take, for instance, the set of Offshore, the title he gave his show tonight. It was like a pool carved from foam shaded blue-green—sea foam, geddit? Simultaneously synthetic and natural. The parade of boys—hair slicked aerodynamically upward by Holli Smith—who stepped onto this stage in their pristine whites and navies could have stepped straight off it onto the deck of an oceangoing keeler. Casual cotton outerwear was rubberized; nylon and mesh were used for suitings. Even the more formal wool pieces were bonded, not stitched, to make them seaworthy. And the signature print of the collection was a watery abstract.
Ervell is a designer for whom precision is a point of pride, so it was odd to see fit issues with a couple of the unstructured blazers, but a rousing red, white, and blue finale put the seal on a collection that was possibly his most commercial to date. To paraphrase some antique scribe, they that go down to the sea in ships do business in great waters. It's great business that awaits Ervell with this stuff.