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New York Fashion Week Fall-Winter 2011: Band on the run(way)

February 14, 2011 |  2:42 pm

Band1 Sitting in the front row before Band of Outsiders' first full-fledged runway show at New York Fashion Week, Kanye West obligingly sat through a gazillion flashbulb pops. But when a photographer asked the rapper if he could "show his grill" to the camera, West made it clear he wasn't going to strike a pose.

After the show, when he went backstage to congratulate creative director Scott Sternberg, another photographer tried to manufacture a photo op with the two raising their glasses in a posed toast. Once again, West let it be known he wasn't about to manufacture a Kodak moment for anyone.

So it's pretty safe to assume that when he turned back to Sternberg to share his opinion of the fall-winter 2011 collection he'd just seen, the style-loving rapper was being full-on, unfettered Kanye West-honest. "That show was dope," West said. "And that purple fur cape was dope." 

Which pretty much sums up a show that began with male models in mountain climbing harnesses being lowered on ropes to the runway to the strains of the Doors' "This Is the End," and ended 52 looks later with guests filing out of the studio space to the sound of the 1953 animated movie-theater concession clip "Let's All Go the Lobby."

Dopeness aside -- and there were a couple of unfortunate lighting cue glitches that left some looks wholly in the dark -- one shouldn't read too much into Sternberg's decision to mount a runway show instead of the static tableaux he usually presents. When I ran into him at a GQ event the night before, he told me it was simply a matter of expediency.

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"I've got 52 looks, the men's line and two women's lines, so I decided to do a runway show. Who knows, I'll probably go back to doing a presentation next season," he told me.

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As for the clothes themselves, the collection included many of the Band of Outsiders staples like French terry sweatpants, oxford cloth shirts and chino trousers for men, shirt dresses, slouchy T-shirts, oversize blazers and flare-leg trousers for the tomboyish Boy by Band of Outsiders line and draped, gauzy pieces in silks and cottons for the newer, more feminine Girl by Band of Outsiders range.

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But the mountain-climbing motif turned out to be more than just a show opening flourish, with things like nylon climbing rope belts, wool blanket coats and ponchos, fingerless gloves and climbing boots sprinkled throughout the collection.

Band8 Add in the God's eye pattern that appeared on scarves, hats, gloves as well as a few jackets and ponchos, and the asteroid and star prints on a few of the Girl garments and the collection takes on a subtle spiritual tone, as if Sternberg was somehow sending the inhabitants of the Band of Outsiders universe out to scale the summit of a remote South American mountain to learn the wisdom of the ages.

If that's the case, we're bound to find out what they've learned next season. Because, as a student of film, Sternberg will be the first to point out that the "Let's All Go to the Lobby" jingle was traditionally played between the opening reels and the feature attraction.

-- Adam Tschorn in New York

Photos: Looks from the Band of Outsiders fall-winter 2011 runway show. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson and Peter Stigter / For The Times.

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