Michael Bastian Discusses His Summer Of Love

From GQ, and edited for brevity:

Michael Bastian: One of the weird things about being a designer is guessing what the world will want about a year in advance of when they will want it. It becomes almost a psychological test in a way … When I began designing my Spring ’13 collection it wasn’t even Spring ’12 yet. Snow was actually still on the ground in New York, but I knew I wanted this particular spring season to be freer, more colorful, easier, more about feeling good and I wanted there to be a sexier feeling than we’ve been known for in the past. I wanted fabrics that feel good, colors that are so beautiful you buy them, then worry about what to wear with them, that kind of thing. Would other guys be feeling this way? Or wanting to feel with way? That was the question …

The initial inspiration we started with was the American colorfield painter Helen Frankenthaler … Often times, the way she juxtaposed colors or watered them down made you see things in a completely different light … So there was our color palette–that was easy–but now how to give it form? What direction should the clothes and styling take? For a long time now I’ve been finding myself going back to early ’80s GQ’s when I’m looking to be inspired. Maybe because my first GQ was the June 1981 issue– featuring one of Bruce Weber’s first covers. It’s hard to imagine magazines without celebrities on the cover, but this was from the days of models on covers and this one was a particularly good one–a tan, fit beautiful guy in a tiny bathing suit, being hugged from behind by an equally beautiful girl in a bathrobe. I’ve been staring at that image since I was 15, it’s burned into my brain. It’s always been a dream, a moment I was certainly too young and skinny to live out myself at the time, but one I’d always wanted to recreate somehow. So this was where the collection took flight: we wanted to recreate the most beautiful summer, at least my idea of one. Maybe it really was the summer of 1981.

One distinction I wanted to stress was this was to be a collection you would wear to a beautiful modern house with a pool, not a collection for the beach. I’ve always had this thing for swimming pools– I think they’re much sexier and far more glamorous than the beach in way … Other random things–giraffes, razor blades, Donna Summer–somehow found their way into the collection as well … It’s always a little hard for me to communicate in words about my work– it’s a visual business we’re in here, and I’m a big believer that the show video speaks more eloquently (and objectively) than I ever can. All I can say is I’m very proud of this one– that fantasy summer dreamed up by a fifteen year old boy in a tiny town in upstate New York finally came to life 30 years later.