February 03, 2007 New York
He could equally have been talking about his clothes. Like his most interesting peers, he has taken to the notion of "American" tailoring as an antidote to Europe's "grotesque and precious" inclinations. That made for a larger, more generous, unstructured silhouette, with sleeves rolled back on jackets and soft, slightly dropped shoulders. Ervell's "American" trench had a storm flap, shirred wrists, and no epaulettes or belt ("not so precious and dainty" is the way he put it). His research in the New York Public Library yielded a boxy wrapped jacket derived from the hanten coat of Japanese laborers. (Ervell tapered the kimono sleeve to make it more agreeable to Occidentals.) Such general generosity allowed the designer to layer clothes in intriguing ways: nylon jackets worn under alpaca cardigans, say, or artfully unstructured blazers.