A First Look at Andrew Buckler’s Cool Uniforms for The James Hotel

New York Fashion Week unspools through September 16 in the big, gray cube planted temporarily next to Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House.

With over 100 designers strutting their Spring/Summer 2011 collections – and with more than a dozen new style-conscious hotels opening in New York this year – you’d think the two realms might overlap. And you’d be right.

Which is why I found myself elbowing my way into the Box, a midnight black runway room, for Andrew Buckler’s menswear show.

Buckler, a British designer known for eccentrically urbane designs aimed at cool, creative types, devised the cheeky uniforms – urban hipster meets Gangs of New York – sported by the staff at the new James Hotel, which opened September 1.

A 180-degree jump from classic livery and braided epaulettes, the outfits also leapfrog past boutique hotel all-black. The women’s double-belted steel-blue pencil skirt comes with a matching leather-edged coat embellished with zippers.  Flick the zipper and – voila – the coat turns into a blazer.

Doormen sport white shirts and steel-blue shorts in summer (there’s a funky fur-collared

overcoat, and long pants, for winter). Everyone wears lace-up Frye boots.

Since I hang around hotels more than haute couture houses, Buckler’s show proved fascinating, as much for the choreography as the clothes. After lining up in a long glass-walled hall, we entered the Box and discovered – no seats! Basically, you score a spot as near as possible to the runway, whip out your camera and wait as mood music rips — Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” in this instance.

At precisely 1:30 pm, the first model strolled out in persimmon pants and a smart adjustable tan trench (now a coat – zip — now an Eisenhower jacket). Cameras flashed. Two dozen men, two dozen outfits inspired by the 1924 Chariots of Fire Olympics and the Bauhaus (go figure).  Click, click. Our group – fashion bloggers, editors, buyers and design students from the look of things – filed out as a new audience lined up at the gate. Buckler, who appeared for a quick bow, owned the Box for an hour.

The forecast for creative-type guys? Expect navy over-the-knee shorts, white pants casually rolled, short, tight-cut jackets, long, loose waistcoats over white Ts and polished hoodies with a between-the-wars vibe, more Brideshead than Radiohead.  As for hair, I loved the Bob’s Big Boy pompadours. Look for them on the porters at the James.



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