Something totally transporting happened during New York Men’s Fashion Week. On February 3, in a huge warehouse space in lower Manhattan, against a digital backdrop of snow-covered Rocky Mountains and blue skies, 30 fresh pine trees created the unexpected habitat for the models in Nick Graham’s 2016 fall-winter presentation. When the lights and music (Johann Johannsson) came up, each of the models stood territorially poised at his own appointed tree, outfitted in the wonderful colors and prints of Nick Graham’s perfectly tailored suits, shirts and jackets. Their outfits were further brought to life by a surreal array of hats, boots and accessories fitted with birds, feathers, squirrels, eggs, branches and the like – wry camouflage for the urban dandy in the woods.
Rather than models walking a runway, it was the audience that got to walk between the two long rows of trees, exploring the clothes on the models much like one would dioramas in The Natural History Museum. Guiding them along, headsets delivered deadpan hilarious commentary on alpha males, their habitat, and penchant for survival, while 100% genuine park rangers circulated, making sure no one got lost or eaten by a bear. Science-Guy and Graham collaborator Bill Nye was also on hand to explain to any fashion denialists. Blurring lines between fashion and art, performance and audience, the show was a total-immersion experience.
Entitled “Men in their Natural Habitat,” the show’s theme celebrated the centennial birthday of our National Parks. Himself Canadian, Graham says he would wear one of his outfits fishing. That’s not entirely farfetched, as the clothes convey a playful, post-prep masculinity and sexiness. This thanks to superbly fitted tailoring and appealing fabrics in deeply hued solids and prints, notably blues, greens and burgundies. Nick Graham and Chris March designed the whimsical hats and accessories, but the clothes look just as eye-catching without a decoy duck.
"This is all very traditional menswear,” says Graham. “You don't have to wear the whole three-piece suit in plaid - maybe just the jacket and black pants. You can mix it together that way.” Indeed versatility is as important a feature of Graham’s menswear as is style, and his 2016 fall-winter line will sustain any man’s wardrobe needs. As for the show’s sustainability, Nick Graham pledged to plant five trees for every tree used in the show. Note as well that no models were hurt in the making of the show.