September 26, 2006
One of the most inspiring sub-currents of the New York fashion scene is the handful of new menswear designers who are applying themselves to their craft with energy, rigor, and a remarkable degree of thoughtfulness. Chief among them is Adam Kimmel, whose background is architecture and the art world, and whose Spring collection took as its starting point the rough cottons he found as drape cloths and rags in friends' studios. His clothes are usually characterized by a dialogue between high and low elements, and this one was no exception. A navy tux in cotton was the most obvious example; a canvas jacket lined in cashmere silk was another. True to form, Kimmel augments those contrasts with a gutsy masculinity. His inspirations here were fifties archetypes: hard-living Abstract Expressionists, military men, working stiffs. That's why the tailoring had a generous boxiness (Kimmel name-checked Jerry Lewis with a standout slubbed suit). It also accounted for the utilitarian edge he favored in items such as a hardy cotton canvas sweatshirt or a black bomber with industrial clip closings. Kimmel's clothes aren't fashion-fussy (he is, after all, the designer whose signature piece is the bastard child of the Maytag Man's coveralls), but such plainness demands a discerning eye. He rewards it.