You either get Mark McNairy or you don’t. If you get him, you know that he was voted one of GQ’s best new menswear designers in America. You get streetwear and music references, so you understand the awesomeness of him–including his choice of playing Backstreet Boys in the pre-show soundtrack. You get how cool it is that he got Greg Chapman, Nick Wooster, Pusha-T, and his models to drink Heineken and brandish switchblades while walking the runway. And you just have to get the inherent, tongue-in-cheek coolness of his clothes–because he does not like to talk about the ever-present, designer topic, of “inspiration.”
“I hate that question,” he said backstage, to people hounding him with the standard interview question.
But he did hint that part of his inspiration was “a still of a Solange [Knowles] video, that was filmed in Africa. And there were all these guys in crazy suits.” “Crazy suits,” referring to the dandified, Sabeur or Le SAPE Society (Society for the Advancement of People of Elegance) style seen in Solange’s “Losing You” video, the style signature of a group of Congolese working men who joyfully embrace the practice of colorfully suiting up, for purely non-professional reasons, with an unadulterated joy. He didn’t mention it, but I would also add Duck Dynasty (“maybe,” he demurred when I asked) and bubble baths to McNairy’s inspiration equation.
What that boiled down to was suiting looks done with an Ivy League meets streetwear nonchalance that didn’t belie how well-made they were. Skater button-downs were crisp in blown-out gingham and madras patterns, paired with knee-length board-style shorts or pants, smartly rolled up at the ankle–all the better to show off his much-loved footwear, which included camo-patterned wingtip brogues. Like the Sabeurs, his approach towards color was enthusiastic, but restrained, with electric purples and sapphires, tempered by navy.
McNairy’s casual looks were smarter takes on athletic shorts (part of a Mark McNairy x Adidas collaboration), and continued riffs on camo, printed on carpenter pants, hooded toggle coats, and made cheeky with the addition of embroidered yellow rubber duckies and in one case, a giant set of jaws along a jacket elbow. There was also a set of Cajun-style wader overalls for men and women (hence the Duck Dynasty question.) Per usual, some of his pieces, like his blazers and trucker hats, featured insider-y phrases like “Twin Pipes,” “Dynomite,” and “Regular,” but we know the real joke is that McNairy’s clothes are anything but basic.