Jul 12, 2017 | By Carlene Thomas Bailey
New York: Somewhere between artsy hipster and rebel biker, there lies the type of man designer J. Sabatino champions. Not quite an intellectual or a punk anarchist, this man traverses the underground scene with a street-smart swagger and killer thrift store duds. Jim Jarmusch’s student film Permanent Vacation played in the background and, along with Ulli Lommel’s punk classic Blank Generation, set the cultural context for Sabatino’s debut stateside (although he’s been garnering plenty of fans in Japan the last few years). With a mere eight looks, the designer was able to portray characters as rich as the ones Jarmusch portrays in his candid vignettes on film. Conditioned by images of Elvis Presley, a No Wave soundtrack and memories Sabatino has of visiting the Lower East Side in the early 80s, the models strutted out in suits tailored to fit like hand-me-downs, polka-dot button-ups, rolled-up jeans and worn motorcycle jackets. Soda tab pins, round spectacles and old Stetsons further cultivated an eclectic style that appeared to be collected over time rather than fabricated for a fashion show. All the ensembles were a bit off – a pant cut too short or wide, a suit too rumpled – one model wore red socks to match his shirt – but all were carried out with an earnestness and a careless confidence that made everyone in the room take notice and want to own the clothes.
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