September 09, 2006
John Bartlett's ongoing celebration of all things male took a turn for the patrician this season with a collection that was as scrupulously neat as a new uniform. He described it as a concerted effort to marry tailoring and sportswear, and most outfits had elements of restraint and release. A suit in a shadow glen plaid was paired with woven-rope flip-flops, and dapper shorts with a precise little cuff were worn with a clingy cotton-knit top. In fact, the knitwear generally harked back to the overt sexiness that has always been a Bartlett signature. It clung to the models' six-packs so efficiently that front-row Phil Donahue, an old Bartlett family friend from Dayton, Ohio, days, felt pumping iron would be a prerequisite before he could even go near the clothes. On the subject of harking back, Bartlett name-checked as inspirations the movie Summer of '42 and Evan Bachner's photographs of sailors at ease during World War IImore for mood than anything literal, though there was a nostalgic hint of shore leave in the smart but relaxed feel of a pea jacket paired with shorts (cuffed again) and a jacket-shirt-and-pants combo in khaki. (Bartlett also mentioned the French Foreign Legion flick Beau Travail in passing.) The minimal palettenavy, gray, white, khakireflected the mood of restraint, until the collection climaxed with a couple of sheer shirts in deep orange and banana-yellow, reminders that boys just want to have fun.