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Milan Fashion Week: Mark McNairy melds Navy with Ivy League in debut collection for Woolrich Woolen Mills

January 19, 2011 |  7:53 am


In his first collection for Woolrich Woolen Mills, Mark McNairy made it clear that he's not as much replacing Daiki Suzuki as the designer at the label (though he does succeed him in that position) as much as he his writing his own chapter in the life of the label.

"I really wanted to move away from the Buffalo plaid thing," McNairy told me, in reference to the iconic pattern associated with the Woolrich brand and his predecessor. McNairy certainly didn't mean it as snark, simply that he was ready to chart his own course. As if to silently counter any such suggestion, he and Suzuki collaborated on one of the pieces of the collection: a redesigned version of the arctic parka, dubbed the Four Hands Parka, that serves as a symbolic passing of the torch.

In a sharp collection that draws inspiration from the mid-20th-century uniforms of the U.S. Navy and the unspoken dress code of the Ivy League, with a smattering of influences that include Marine Corps dress uniforms and the musical "South Pacific," McNairy serves up chinos (in black and khaki), a button-down dress shirt in a riot of mixed plaid, a handful of vests, and jackets (including a navy blue three-button blazer with a zip-closure pocket and a gray wool two-button layering piece with four patch pockets).

Rage_WWM_Shoes The range of outerwear pieces includes a geometric pattern wool duffle coat, knit caps with WWM screen-printed on the front, and -- in what felt like the only questionable piece in the collection -- a trucker cap that was plaid in the front and yellow mesh in the back.

That bright yellow accent color was used to better effect in bag straps (bags and belts are new for the label this season) and an eye-catching quilted nylon vest that McNairy said was inspired by the flight deck vests worn on Navy aircraft carriers.

In addition to a new point of view, McNairy brings his experience in the footwear world into the Woolrich Woolen Mills fold, resulting in the brand's first two shoe styles for fall and winter 2011: a low chukka style sneaker in wool and a wingtip boot with a contrasting slices of gray wool between the toecap and the laces.

Proof positive that Woolrich's new designer has not only stepped up to the challenge of following in Suzuki's footsteps, he's doing it in style.

-- Adam Tschorn in Milan, Italy

More All The Rage coverage of Milan Fashion Week

Upper photos: Looks from the fall and winter 2011 Woolrich Woolen Mills collection. Credit: Woolrich Wollen Mills

Lower photos: The brand's first footwear offerings, a chukka-style sneaker (left) and a wingtip boot. Credit: Woolrich Woolen Mills