But, if it wasn't obvious from the chandeliers hanging over the runway, it was crystal clear by the time the first look hit the runway -- a chalk stripe double-breasted suit, contrast collar gingham shirt, shantung necktie, pencil-thin mustache and a boutonniere the size of a drink coaster -- that Bastian had a very particular man in mind: the extra man.
Also known as walkers or escorts, extra men were the well-bred, well-dressed and well-educated bon vivants of another era, the kind of fellow who could be counted on to ensure any high society soiree was a night to remember.
A 1974 New York Times article on New York City's most popular extra men, titled "The Most-Wanted List," (a photocopy of which Bastian included with his show notes) included cartoonist Charles Addams, fashion designer Bill Blass, writer Norman Mailer and former U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy. (Jonathan Ames' 1999 novel on the topic, "The Extra Man," would go on to serve as the basis for a 2010 movie starring Kevin Kline.)
Bastian's modern-day men-about-town came down the catwalk in finery that included three-piece Glen plaid suits, purple wool/cashmere shawl-collared jackets, moleskin topcoats with grosgrain ribbon contrast tipping and shantung tuxedos.
Less formal -- but no less luxe -- pieces included boiled wool peacoats, parkas trimmed in fox fur, moleskin paratrooper pants, corduroy trousers, turtlenecks and plaid workshirts. There was a surfeit of sweaters to be had; Fair Isles sweaters, sweaters depicting chess pieces, French bulldogs or Dachsunds. One sweater -- a single black zig-zag across yellow cashmere -- called to mind Charlie Brown's signature garment.
No extra man would be complete without a little extra flair, and Bastian's boy toys didn't disappoint here either, with Audemars Piguet watches strapped to their wrists, J. Frost resin boutonnieres on their lapels, all manner of Stubbs & Wootton slippers on their feet (this season's collaboration included velvet, corduroy and needlepoint patterns) and custom-crafted high-end hats -- courtesy of Eugenia Kim's recently relaunched Mr. Kim collection -- perched jauntily upon their heads.
Guilty gifts from wealthy widows? The extra man isn't saying a word.
-- Adam Tschorn in New York
Photos: Looks from the Michael Bastian fall and winter 2012 runway collection, which was shown on Monday during New York Fashion Week. Credit: Michael Bastian.