Michael Bastian Talks GANT by MB F/W 12

From GQ (UK):

For purely selfish reasons we were particularly looking forward to the Gant by Michael Bastian autumn/winter 2012 presentation at New York Fashion Week – Bastian is one of GQ’s favourite designers right now. (We are currently wearing the Prince of Wales check sports jacket from the autumn/winter 2011 collection as we type.) Sure enough “Basty” didn’t disappoint, delivering all the wardrobe staples you’d expect from the Sweden-based, American-founded heritage sportswear brand but shot through with the New York-born designer’s own modern sensibility and sense of fun. Here the CFDA winner talks us through his highly personal preppy-meets-mod inspiration, his Fashion Week survival tip and why finding models who can walk properly is actually much harder than you might think…

GQ: Talk us through the inspiration for the collection.
MB: This season is probably my most personal one so far. It’s more or less entirely based on my memories from being a young college student in Boston in the mid Eighties. Two of my closest friends at that time were this really cool girl who had moved in from LA and her boyfriend who was a swimmer, but since it’s an autumn/winter collection we made him a boxer – that’s how the boxing elements found their way into the collection. Her name was Dena and she was really into the mod revival that was going on back then. She was quite an influential girl so me and her boyfriend ended up experimenting with mod style, going to mod clubs and listened to music by the Specials, the Cure and the Beat. That’s more or less what the autumn/winter collection is about – the edgy mod elements mixed with the traditional preppy university style.

What’s your favourite piece and why?
I love the multi-plaid Shetland-wool blazer with square elbow patches and we also did some great skinny cargo pants this season: one pair in moss-green moleskin and one in charcoal herringbone. Oh, and of course the mod-must-have: the green army parka.

What’s your Fashion Week survival tip?
Try to get as much sleep as possible and take your vitamins. I did that and somehow still got sick afterwards. I just think it’s a real marathon getting through two big shows in three days – kind of like taking your finals in school. And when it’s over, you just crash. Plus I think I must have kissed about 400 cheeks that week and shaken 800 hands.

What’s the hardest element to get right?
The hardest thing in staging a big runway show is really finding the right models who fit the clothes, represent the mood of the season and can actually walk down the runway. It sounds fundamental but you’d be surprised by how many guys we see who are really handsome and look great in the clothes yet have a terrible walk. The ones who have the most trouble with over-think it – particularly with guys, it’s important that they just look manly and natural on the runway. As for our Gant by Michael Bastian presentation, there’s no walking in that one – it’s a static presentation – so that’s a bit easier to cast. But they still have to have the right spirit. I was just thinking about this last night: we cast almost 70 models for those two shows and probably had to see 400 guys and girls to find the right ones. It’s a huge job for everyone involved and seeing all of these models is not nearly as hot or glamorous as it may sound. All of our interns are always dying to help out with this process, until they do it once and realise it’s brutal. You’ll have to trust me on this one.

How did you celebrate after the show?
As I do two shows, both my own line and my line for Gant, Fashion Week is kind of a hectic time for me. After the Gant presentation, me, my team and the team from Gant usually go out to dinner together. We rarely have time to do that when we’re in Stockholm working, so it’s a nice opportunity to catch up with everyone. Of course, we all sit with our iPhones and BlackBerrys, scouring the internet for the first review. After my MB show this season, we all met back in my office and cracked open many bottles of wine while we sorted through the first round of runway pics to send out the next morning.

Your last collection for Gant was Hawaii-themed. Where are you going on holiday this summer?
Since my travel schedule for work is always kinda crazy, I never really know when I can find a spare week to just get away. But that said, I recently discovered this great little hotel on Gran Canaria where I can just disappear and hang out by a pool, so maybe I’ll find a way to slip that in again this summer. We also might be visiting South Korea in the summer so I may try to tack some days on there as well.

We were in Stockholm recently for Fashion Week. Where’s a good place to go next time we’re there?
I really love Matbaren, a restaurant located right next to Grand Hotel opposite the Royal Castle. The food is great and the restaurant itself has a great ambience with a cool Scandianvian interior design. I actually drew some inspiration from it for my autumn/winter 2011 collection “Tales From A Northern Country”.

What’s your best style tip for spring/summer?
I always feel summer is about how little clothes you can wear, in a way. No one wants to think about clothes so much when the weather is great and they’re enjoying themselves. So use these cold, dark months to get yourself in good shape – your clothes will look better, you’ll feel better, and you’ll be happy you did when your friends start posting pics on Facebook.

What was the last stylish thing you bought?
This beautiful silver belt buckle engraved with my initials and a lizard belt strap from Tiffany & Co. I really love that store and the whole experience of shopping there. That to me is real American luxury.

What book are you reading right now?
The Journals Of John Cheever.

What’s your taste in social media?
I don’t really follow Tumblr too much, I must say, although I’m addicted to Twitter and Facebook. I recently hit my max number of friends on Facebook and had to open a second account. I really like getting to talk to customers and other people interested in our work.

Where do you keep your CFDA?
It’s sitting right on the corner of my desk in my New York office, right behind the phone. Winning the CFDA was such an honor – it’s like winning an Academy Award in a way – and I will definitely always count this as one of my proudest moments. No matter what happens in the future, it’s a moment no one can take away.