September 03, 2007
If Trovata were fashion's 'N Sync, John Whitledge, the last one standing, would be JT
except for the fact that there isn't yet the dazzling solo career to add any substance to such pipe dreams. But Whitledge is at least making moves in the right direction. After a fall offering that expended too much effort on style and not enough on substance, Trovata's spring collection was mercifully edited into a coherent and pleasing whole. There was still a load of fancy flimflam in the accompanying narrative (something about young Americans on the loose in sixties Brazil, housesitting, losing the dog they were minding, yadda yadda yadda) but the core of the inspirationthe interplay of São Paulo's structured urban architecture and the beachy ease of oceanside Florianópolis, with a little WASP-iness stirred inactually worked. The urban element was evident in the leaner, cleaner line of the tailoringcorded cotton suits, for instancewhile the casual sensuality of the beach came through in the softness of brushed cottons, a pajama-piped shirt, or board shorts in bonded linen, cut in a sixties length that made them almost hot pants by today's standards. According to Whitledge, the focus was on fit and fabric. Signature Trovata details like buttons (here in burnt resin or Australian mother-of-pearl), taped seams, printed linings, and elaborate labels (telling the tale of that dog) came later. By focusing on the fundamentals rather than the window dressing, Whitledge has reanimated Trovata menswear. Perhaps solo stardom will be his after all.