Studio Visit: Michael Bastian

The CFDA award-winning menswear designer gives us a glimpse into his process and shares why consistency is key, what the self-professed "king of collaborations" has up his sleeve, and why baby animals are not just totally cute, but his gateway to mental clarity.

"You get to a certain age and you learn what looks good on you," says Michael Bastian, the 2011 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year, who often takes his personal wardrobe needs into consideration when designing. "I'm a guy in my 40s, and I live in the city. I travel a lot. I don't need to wear a suit, but sometimes I like to. I go to some formal events, so I need to have that covered. I feel like there's a lot of guys like me."

His pieces, which include everything from hats and slippers to tuxedos and bathing suits, reflect a background in luxury goods (he was the men's fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman for five years). But it's Bastian's meticulous, almost obsessive dedication to fabric, fit, and finish—not to mention his love of hidden details—that's gained him a quiet but fiercely loyal following.

Click enlarge to view the slideshow of our studio tour and interview with Bastian.

—Katie Chang is a writer and shopkeeper based in Brooklyn. Follow her at @katieshewrote.

How did you get your start in menswear?

Through a series of random jobs, I wound up at Ralph Lauren in creative services. And then a couple guys from Ralph (including Peter Rizzo, who became president) jumped over to Bergdorf Goodman. After about half a year, they gave me a call and asked me to be the men's fashion director. Bergdorf, at the time, wasn't where young, cool men shopped. So we'd have this shopping list of what we needed—simple, classic American staples done at a more luxury level, without logos everywhere. If we couldn't find it, then we'd make it in our private label.

I met the manufacturers from doing the private label, so it was easier to jump into doing my own thing. As reckless and crazy as it sounds, I quit my job and was on a plane to Italy a couple days later. That was in October 2005.

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