Living Portrait: A Night with Ernest Alexander

Living Portrait: A Night with Ernest Alexander

Fashion week flew by in a frou-frou flurry, and this Editorial Agent was gleefully caught up in the storm. It's a funny time of year, this semi-annual celebration of all looks haute and happening. All the movers-and-shakers (and wannabes, let's not forget) of the fashion, art and media worlds converge for a whirlwind series of events aimed at shaping the aesthetic trajectory of the upcoming season. Everyone dons their finest threads, all impossibly high heels and carefully draped scarves, and sets out to make a style statement. It's not a healthy environment for the self-doubting or frumpy among us. Dress to impress, darling, or simply stay home. And stay home I simply wouldn't do. On Wednesday evening, designer Ernest Alexander was the center of attention at The James hotel in SoHo. The affair was billed as a presentation of his Menswear collection for the 2013 season. I walked into a small room packed with people. In the far corner a man popped corks and poured champagne into a seemingly endless line of hands holding flutes. Guests young and old mixed and mingled, chuckle and grinned, smiled and sauntered. *POP FIZZ* goes a bottle of champagne. About nine young models (boys, really) stood in the back under hot, bright lights. They had classic good looks: hard jaw lines, meticulously coiffed hair, inch-wide waistlines and flawless complexions of every shade. Dressed to the nines in Ernest's latest, they posed in what came across like some kind of living family portrait—several boys were standing, one leaned on a wine barrel, others sat pretty in wing-back armchairs. Most guests took their ganders from afar, while the more intrepid came up close to prod, poke and examine the boys and their garments. The clothes were impressive: three-piece brown tweed suits; velvet-y pants and blazers patterned in navy, cream and mahogany stripes; distressed white neck scarves that could be tied in just about any fashion (casual drape, loose bow, folded over like a 17th-century cravat). All together, the looks read "old-money with a modern edge." *POP FIZZ* sings another bottle. I walk up to one of the models sitting in an armchair. "Tough job," I note. He shoots back, "But somebody's got to do it." *CLINK CLANK* go the half-empty glasses. Ernest Alexander himself was in attendance. He weaved through the crowd with a placid smile, occasionally posing for a photo, stopping for some chit-chat, giggles and gesticulations. "There's something very Wes Anderson about your collection," I say. "I love it!," he coos, staring down at me through tortoise-shell spectacles. "I do admire his aesthetic. Particularly what he had going on in The Royal Tenenbaums—very Upper West Side, or at least the Upper West Side as I'd like to think of it...as opposed to what it actually is today." He goes on to summarize his collection, "Classic. Heritage. Familiar." Familiar to a wealthy few, I think. *POP FIZZ* After my umpteenth glass of bubbly, I collect my coat and step out into the night—but not before draping my scarf around my neck just so, of course.

Were you invited?