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A West Coast Club Comes East

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Derek Buse, Joe Sadler, and Greg Ullery of the up-and-coming menswear line Riviera Club are California dudes: they live and work out of L.A. and Santa Barbara. And while it’s their breezy, surf-inspired twists on casual menswear that’s earned them accolades in their initial seasons—culminating in a nomination for GQ and the CFDA’s Best New Menswear Designer in America award—for their first New York fashion week presentation last week, they went for more of a cool-weather vibe.

At the Bowery Hotel, the trio staged an elaborate feast, with that great fashion week rarity: Actual food. The Wine Country-inspired spread came courtesy of props-and-set man Michael Strugeon, who also built the gorgeous, hardwood table for the show. The models schmoozed, drank, nibbled, and generally hung out, and the spectators did the same—not a bad way to spend an evening, especially if you’ve spent the surrounding ones, as most of the editors present had, sitting bolt upright on benches, watching parades of sloe-eyed mannequins process.

“This is the harvest dinner,” Buse explained, “which is very Riviera Club. It’s a West Coast-derived inspiration, based on the California wine renaissance: The Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, San Ynez Valley.” The clothes themselves follow the reigning school of workmanly basics, tweaked for fit (slimmer), color (brighter), and hand (softer, especially thanks to a new cashmere program for Fall). “It’s rugged by very refined,” Sadler broke in. “Sort of polished dishevelment, if you will.”

“We really tried to focus on our outerwear this season, to please our fans on the East Coast and not just do casual beachwear,” he continued, pointing out the Diamond Mountain duffel coat, named for a favorite Napa winery, and kitted out with vintage toggles and antique zippers. Brushed wool jackets, chinos, tweeds, and collaborative Stetson hats rounded out the offerings. The capstone was yet another winter warmer: glasses of Riviera Club’s own 2008 Rhone blend

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