Sense of style and humor showing up in menswear

September 19, 1990|By Robin Givhan | Robin Givhan,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

NEW YORK — NEW YORK-- As menswear becomes clean, simple and basic, furnishings get flashy, frivolous and creative.

As soon as men figured out that retro patterns were trendy on ties, florals came into vogue. Before the floral rage could burn itself out, faces and objects adorned the newest ties. Now fashion watchers suspect a move to resurrect stripes.

At New York's Designers' Collective, creators of neckwear experimented with novelty patterns.

Artfully Tied, a group of seven artists, focused on hand painted and screen printed images inspired by sources such as Soviet posters and folk art. Brian Bubb favored apples and beach balls. Daniel Craig turned to jazz for motivation.

"Basically, what we do is we like to show our customers a little of who we are, and we're jazz buffs," said Billy Lavin of the New York-based neckwear company.

Reproductions of the flowers that Billie Holliday wore in her hair turn up on their ties, as do stand-up microphones and the faces of jazz greats. The sounds from the golden age of jazz pour out of the showroom.

Ties were once a man's only showcase for his personality. Now, they're a canvas for his passions and his humor. Eric Smith, designer for E.G. Smith Socks, has nearly single-handedly done for socks what the entire menswear industry did for neckties. Enormous polka dots cover his Giant Spot socks, profiles liven up his Face to Face model. And planets and stars decorate his Universal Love socks.

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