Adam Kimmel shifted gears this season, choosing to show his menswear collection on the Paris runway instead of in the presentation format he has used in the past.
That made it hard to tell whether his psycho-surfer-themed spring/summer 2012 collection suffered as a result of not being showcased as memorably as some of his collections in recent seasons (a casino full of clowns, a courtyard of of Snoop Dogg-styled gentlemen and their tricked-out cars, or a Pacific Northwest set piece behind glass, to name just a few), or if this was just a rare occasion when Kimmel's collection failed to catch the killer wave and ride it all the way into shore.
In the show notes, Kimmel described his collection as "dark surfing with a psychedelic undertone" and said that his goal was to create clothes that captured the spirt of the surfer without the traditional look. ("I think surfers are always cooler than the clothes they tend to wear," he notes.)
That meant forsaking the loud prints and bright colors for a dialed-down black and olive color palette with a few pops of red. A Hawaiian floral print that appeared on several shorts was muted to shadow status by a black overdye treatment, and the brightest colors in the entire collection came on black T-shirts with a custom psychedelic print that evoked the '60s-era concert poster art of Alton Kelley and Rick Griffin. (If you stared at the print long enough, you could make out the words "Adam Kimmel" in the design.)
The collection, which included reversible blazers, bomber jackets with detachable collars and sleeves, and resin-coated cotton outerwear -- was full of athletic-inspired touches. Wetsuit-style stitching was used on many of the pieces, mesh knit sweaters sported neoprene elbow pads, and some jacket sleeves had surf-wax pouches.
But the runway format didn't allow for a full appreciation of the functionality of many of the pieces -- a signature of Kimmel's collections. Backstage after the show, I asked Kimmel about his decision to take his collection to the runway.
"I just thought it was time to take that next step," he said.
There's no argument there. Kimmel's clothes deserve to be shown on the Paris runway. I just hope that as he gets ready to catch the killer waves of future seasons, he doesn't forget to show us all that lies beneath the surface.
-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Paris
Photos: Looks from the Adam Kimmel spring/summer 2012 runway collection shown during Paris Fashion Week. Credit: Patrice Stable