Before debuting his menswear collection for the first time in Paris, designer Umit Benan took to the microphone to thank everyone for making the effort to come to his show and to explain the concept of the collection. Which, for the record, he said was “broken up into two parts, before and after Jackie Robinson became the first African American player in Major League Baseball.”
It was an unexpected move by the designer. But that has become something of a signature for Benan, who tends to build collections around stories and show them in a theatrical way. This time those theatrics were a panoramic tableau of a baseball field with the audience sitting behind a chain link fence.
When the show got underway the all black troupe of models, which clearly were culled from street casting, came down the runway wearing the 1940s inspired clothing while holding baseball mitts over their faces. The roomy cut suits, quilted jackets and pants (think catcher’s protective gear) and baseball inspired varsity jerseys were all crafted in hardy fabrics like wool and corduroy.
In the show’s second act the same wholesome ensembles were replaced - mitts with wide brim hats pushed back on the head. It made for a dapper finish to a show that was retro in all the right ways.