On Thursday night, The Ace Hotel got to feel cool when GQ took it over for a party celebrating the nominees of their fourth annual Best New Menswear Designer, which they award in conjuction with the CFDA. The nominees included Kirk Miller (of Miller’s Oath), Patrick Ervell, Riviera Club’s Derek Buse, Joe Sadler and Greg Ullery, Alex Wang for T, Michael Bastian for Gant, and Rick Klotz, the mad genius behind Warriors of Radness.
Alexander Wang was announced the winner this afternoon. He was chosen by a panel that includes Tommy Hilfiger, GQ editor-in-chief Jim Nelson, creative director Jim Moore, and others, and will receive $50,000 and a contract to collaborate with Dockers (last year it was Levi's, a match made in heaven for Billy Reid, who took home the prize). “It was the best surprise,” said Michael Bastian of his nomination, who did his own line before collaborating with Gant. “Gant's always been in my life. I wore it. My dad wore it. It's a serious heritage brand. And it just kind of disappeared.” The label had been rebuilding in Europe, and wanted Bastian to help them re-energize America. As for the heritage trend, “It’s definitely reached its apex,” he says. “How many snow flake sweaters does a guy need? Hopefully it will settle down into just classic, well-made American clothes…I don't think there's a single brand left that can be brought back from the dead. Heritage for heritage sake is over.” The Riviera boys were already looking to the future; they leave tomorrow for the Capsule trade show in Vegas. “If we win, we may just put it all on Black,” joked Sadler.
Also from the West Coast, but a world apart, was Rick Klotz. “We started out perfecting the authentic exuberance of living in southern California, the beach, but perhaps with a smarter, mote unique approach. We’re not a surf brand. In fact, we started it because we couldn't find anything that related to our lifestyle. Some great stores, like Opening Ceremony, took a chance on us, and we owe a lot to them.” With models wearing looks from each designer occupying the lobby’s center, guests, including Kanye West (who, escorted by Jim Moore, studied each designer long and hard), Kid Cudi, Alexander Wang, Jessica Alba, and Swizz Beatz. It was a constantly roving perimeter of style, crushed at times, but with top shelf booze, great champagne, and fashion heavies from both the men’s and women’s side, “crushed” in only in the best sense.
Today, when GQ announced that the winner was Alex Wang, my gut reaction was, "Huh?" My money had been on Michael Bastian, with Patrick Ervell as a dark horse. Go figure. Props to GQ for going with their gut, but Wang needs neither the cash nor the publicity—that money will probably end up going into golden fixtures for Wang’s Soho megastore.