January 30, 2008
Scott Sternberg's fall presentation was inspired by the overlapping worlds of the movie Jumanji, and his collection created a similar juncture, with his favorite forties guy transported to the Scottish Highlands. Just about everyone is doing tartans and plaids this season, but there can't be many designers who actually got as up close and personal with the Scots as Sternberg did last October, when he crossed the Atlantic in search of an old company called Glenmac. It's that kind of fetishistic specificity that links his aesthetic to someone like Junya Watanabe. (Why else would he insist on a bird's-eye interior for his knit tartan vests?) But Sternberg's been equally turned on by hiking in the canyons at home in L.A., so there was also what he called a "hunter-explorer vibe" in his clothes. It translated as a new emphasis on outerwear: an oilcloth trench in Black Watch tartan, or a chunky melton coat. Mind you, "chunk" is an entirely relatively notion in the universe of Band of Outsiders. Think small, then halve it. That's what Sternberg has done this time, trimming his silhouette still further with a shorter, one-button blazer or a little double-breasted waistcoat.
Maybe it was the presence of tartan that helped to invoke the specter of Prince Charles as a boy at Balmoral. Such an image is a kind of validation of Sternberg's nostalgic impulses, which are curious because they are in no way, shape, or form derived from his own background (another trait he shares with Watanabe). Fans will be pleased to learn he didn't do anything to his shirts. They're already shrunken and darted to a glovelike fit. And the Sperry boat shoes have mutated into boots. Sounds wrong, looks right.