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New York Fashion Week: Robert Geller's Teutonic take on upbeat [Updated]

September 14, 2009 |  2:23 pm

Robert Geller - ss10 - 02Reporting from New York -- Menswear designer Robert Geller has every reason to be in a good mood. Earlier this year, GQ magazine named him Best New Menswear Designer in America and this week, a capsule collection with Levi Strauss (one of the perks of that award) hit Levi Strauss stores, which is guaranteed to give his handiwork wider exposure.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, and a 2001 graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design (with a several-year layover in the Golden State in the ‘80s), Geller has toiled away at some of the biggest names in American fashion, including Marc Jacobs, and most recently as a partner at Cloak with Alexandre Plokhov. He launched his namesake line for Fall/Winter 2007 (we mentioned it in our reviews of the season here). [Updated at 3:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Geller worked for Ralph Lauren.]

Geller said he’d started work on his Spring/Summer 2010 collection in February, just days after he won honors from GQ (the award, in conjunction with the CFDA results in not only bragging rights but a $50,000 check and the aforementioned opportunity to work with Levi’s), so that would have justified the upbeat mood of his clothes even if it weren’t already the prevailing sentiment of the season.

But, while most of the designers here this week are trucking in optimism tinged with a particularly rah-rah American style of patriotic can-do boosterism, Geller drew on Germany of the late ‘50s for inspiration, when that country was trying to put the end of World War II behind it and rebuild – looking forward. The German term for it was “Wirtschaftswunder” (“economic miracle”) and Geller describes his collection as full of the kinds of clothes he would have liked German men of the 1950s to wear “while vacationing at the North Sea.”

Robert Geller - ss10 - 20

The result is a color palette a bit lighter than normal for the designer; cobalt and coral blues, emerald greens and dusty rose shades, boldly striped trousers that could have been cribbed from Carnaby Street and lightweight layered hoodies, bombers, cardigans and vests. Many of the looks were accessorized with gauzy pieces of fabric at the neck, part wayward ascot, part blooming flower, echoing the message of seasonal rebirth.

If Geller envisioned his Spring/Summer 2010 collection for the man on holiday, the 11-piece high-end (prices range from $95 to $575), limited edition capsule collection he did in partnership with Levi’s might have been inspired by the blue collar workwear wardrobe for the same guy. The 11-piece Robert Geller + Levi’s collection that debuted at the 59th and Lexington Bloomingdale’s flagship here last week (on Sept. 21 it expands to an additional 11 Bloomingdale’s doors and a handful of Levi’s stores), is stocked with washed-down chambray shirts with pleated armholes, heavy-duty denim work jackets with button-out woven blanket linings and details like metal buttons with a worn greenish patina, and slim jeans based on a ‘60s style found in the Levi’s archives (another pair is based on the 1933 buckle back style). Many pieces were abraded and faded at the collar, with a dark cast and details that made them seem as if they’d been worn for decades – perhaps by oil workers on the North Sea oil fields.

Later this month, the Levi’s collaboration expands to select Bloomingdale’s (including Century City and Beverly Center locations locally) as well as select Levi Strauss stores (also the Beverly Hills location) and is available now online. Robert Geller’s eponymous line is available at Fred Segal Santa Monica and Confederacy in Los Angeles. 

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photos: Looks from Robert Geller's Spring/Summer 2010 runway show during New York Fashion Week last week. Credit: Dan Lecca