My vintage period was a funny one. I remember combing through racks at Screaming Mimi's, Andees Cheapees, Cheap Jack's, Domsey Warehouse and Antique Boutique in New York trying to find a modern identity amongst re-hatched garbs. Oftentimes it was the perfect print but did I really want the collar to make me appear to be able to become airborne? Or the perfectly cut sleeve with the high armhole but with the imperfectly yellowed pit stains. Then there was always that button down shirt with the piping you 'just don't see anymore' that left you questioning what male freak in the 70's had a 34 chest while being 6 foot 5.
The point is, however, that is was combing. Seeking, searching and uncovering, if you will. Trying to create in the expedition that was my wardrobe a harmonious melange of my love for the uniqueness of the old with my understanding of the new. There's a thin line between reinterpretation and full-on period piece. That's why designers pull prints from here and silhouettes from there and reformulate them for the modern man and woman's body, wallet and sensibilities.
When I first saw Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen while browsing through Bloomingdale's one day a couple of years ago, I was immediately intrigued. It was as if his aesthetic implored upon the male consumer to seek the 'mothball-ridden racks' or 'endless chain store lines' no further. What I saw that he got right was the clever and more importantly subtle combination of the classics and the future in menswear that many American man are subconsciously drawn to when shopping. There was a nod to classic American sportswear with tipped hats to those staples of 20th century decades that gently nudge men forward while keeping the importance of function and fit in mind.
For Spring 2012, Mr. Cohen seemed to continue nudging and combining that Shades of Grey 'easy to understand' mantra with a laid back interchangeable collection. I got whiffs of cool cruise wear in mini prints whose execution remained subtle with whimsy. How ironic that the day I viewed these offerings it was about 95 degrees in the city. Shades of Grey's offerings for next summer are designed to keep a man cool yet appropriately suave at the same time. Therefore, a breezy cotton lawn-like button up in a 'make you smile' plaid is much preferable for that afternoon backyard soiree than a tank top and board shorts. However, fully aware of the thought processes of the American male consumer, Mr. Cohen offers up crisp lightweight printed cotton trousers and shorts cut slim in the hips like your board shorts or 70's trouser that makes them desirable seaside or curbside alike. My particular favorite was a jacquard knit blazer free from all the inner workings that, FYI keep you warmer in those warmer temps, in a cheeky nordic print with bottoms to match.