2009 February 12

Power Suits

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(NEW YORK) "Excuse me--I need to say hello to one of my models," said Yigal Azrouel, gesturing to a young gent standing atop a box at last night's second annual GQ party celebrating the Best New Menswear Designers in America. Hunks abounded, both models and civilians, as Jim Nelson and Jim Moore held court over the town's top designers, publicists and other notables to toast finalists Andre "3000" Benjamin, David Mullen, Alex Carleton, Robert Geller, Sam Shipley, Jeff Halmos, and Azrouel. The event space 620 Fifth Avenue was awash in white and flooded with florescent lighting, which had more than one chicster equal parts hot and haute.

"The heat lamps are starting to get to me, and I'm sweating in my eyes," confessed Nelson to Calvin Klein mens creative director Italo Zucchelli. "Italo and I were just talking about how there is a movement here in mens fashion," Nelson continued. "All these guys are part of this." Zucchelli, who is showing the Calvin Klein mens Collection in New York on Sunday for the first time in 10 years, was equally enthused. "There is a very interesting movement especially here in New York, and it's something that needs to be encouraged. I like to be a part of it! Also, the world is smaller now; Calvin Klein menswear is always very American, whether I show it here or in Milan."

Moore was perfectly composed while catching up with a line of well-wishers including Chace Crawford, Thom Browne, David Lauren, and Peter Som (in no particular order). But the third most popular guy in the room was none other than Benjamin, a relative newbie to the Fashion Week scene, having enchanted the edit set last September during a debut party for his line at Barneys New York. "I'm happy to have a stage so I can show Benjamin Bixby," he said. "A lot of people have seen the collection, which is really cool." As a result, Benjamin has experienced something akin to a lifestyle change. "It's way more hectic, way more stressful. The fashion business is much harder than music, because with music, if I have a song, I record it at the studio and that's it. With fashion, I have to sketch it out, make it into a technical design, take it to a factory, and hope that the factory cares enough as I do. It's so many hands...and then it goes down to retail! You don't have too much for control."

And while Benjamin appeared humbled by his status as a GQ it-boy, he confessed to having another favorite Jim besides the two masthead toppers. "The third coolest Jim?" he laughed. "...Mi Hendrix."

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