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Hail, Odd Fellow

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Marlon Gobel is a former assistant of Thom Browne’s who shares some of his old boss’ interests: namely, in mid-century American archetypes of masculinity, and the way a generous application of glitter or velvet can upend them. His line is still small—a testament, he said after his show at the Park Avenue Armory Thursday, to “what one guy, his boyfriend, and his intern can do”—and available only at Bergdorf Goodman. But judging from the influential attendees in the audience (a full coterie from Barneys among them), that could change.

If it does, Gobel’s collection, which often veers close to the precious, may need to shift a bit, too. Gobel’s taste for full-tilt luxury (his is the first men’s show for which Christian Louboutin contributed a full assortment of glittered and bell-bedecked shoes) may make sales a challenge. His trouser-cut, wide-wale cords, offered here in a rainbow of colors, were the retail takeaway. For spectacle, there were velvet blazers hand-painted with ocean or forest scenes, cashmere and mohair jackets that sparkled, a Fair Isle featuring unicorns.

Gobel was inspired, he said, by the fraternal orders that flourished in America in the nineteenth century, and he offered his own dandily sartorial members-only club, complete with fezes. His show notes mentioned its centuries-old predecessors: the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was one. That could’ve been the title of this whole collection, frankly. But an Odd Fellow on his own can get to feeling lonesome, and fraternity is a noble goal. Today’s odd and flashy fellows deserve their couturier, too. Here he is, boys.

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