Menswear Review: Billy Reid and Gilded Age

What’s a boy to do after taking home the GQ’s 2010 Best New Menswear Designer award, and signing on to collaborate with a little label called Levi’s to design workwear? If you’re Louisiana-born, Alabama-based Billy Reid, you go back to doing what you do best: making all-American clothes imbibed with southern luxury, down home charm, and downtown hipness. There are soft, but refined cottons here (some blended with cashmere), boots, seersucker, and double-breasted suits. His Spring 2011 looks were presented on a stage with a series of antique doors (provided by an antique shop in Alabama), with a model standing on each side, and then rotating in a sartorial game of musical chairs (or was it doors).
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What’s a boy to do after taking home the GQ’s 2010 Best New Menswear Designer award, and signing on to collaborate with a little label called Levi’s to design workwear? If you’re Louisiana-born, Alabama-based Billy Reid, you go back to doing what you do best: making all-American clothes imbibed with southern luxury, down home charm, and downtown hipness. There are soft, but refined cottons here (some blended with cashmere), boots, seersucker, and double-breasted suits. His Spring 2011 looks were presented on a stage with a series of antique doors (provided by an antique shop in Alabama), with a model standing on each side, and then rotating in a sartorial game of musical chairs (or was it doors).
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What’s a boy to do after taking home the GQ’s 2010 Best New Menswear Designer award, and signing on to collaborate with a little label called Levi’s to design workwear? If you’re Louisiana-born, Alabama-based Billy Reid, you go back to doing what you do best: making all-American clothes imbibed with southern luxury, down home charm, and downtown hipness. There are soft, but refined cottons here (some blended with cashmere), boots, seersucker, and double-breasted suits.

His Spring 2011 looks were presented on a stage with a series of antique doors (provided by an antique shop in Alabama), with a model standing on each side, and then rotating in a sartorial game of musical chairs (or was it doors).

While the looks gave off the rugged charm of Faulkner-meets-Lou Reed, or Tom Wolfe-meets-Spike Jonze, the hospitality of Reid’s uniquely sophisticated pieces can be absorbed just by looking at individual pieces:

- Dark chocolate cordovan skinny belt with antique brass buckle

- Bond street-destructed seersucker cut-offs

- Handmade burnished bone cordova short-throat roper boot

My favorite was his “married to the mob” ensemble (below), featuring a natural cotton/cashmere tennis sweater, a linen and cotton pleat trouser, and a washed black duck and twill tennis shoe, an example of Reid’s coming collaboration with K-Swiss.

Despite all the attention to the more dandy details—the quarter horse ascot, the lace pocket square, the wingtip loafer and the skinny ties—there is still something incredibly manly about this collection, something rough, and a little wild.

Ralph Lauren’s little polo players should keep an eye out for Reid’s scrappy football heroes: Roll Tide!

I wish I could say the same for Gilded age and what they have planned for Spring/Summer 2011. If Reid is J Crew with a twist, Gilded Age is J Crew with a swing and a miss.

There’s few terribly exciting piece here—faded “selvage” jeans that could have come right out of 2003, some disastrous Hawaiian, “vintage” print shirts and ties, as well as summer jackets that are summed up nicely with the word “lightweight.”

That isn’t to say that Gilded Age doesn’t have its bright spots. Their cashmere knits looked completely inviting and, along with some respectable chambrays and button-ups, featured less temerity than much of a collection where “the goal was to go…as far as it was possible to go.” I left wishing that, like Billy Reid, they’d stayed a little closer to home.