The newly resurrected Menswear magazine has an interview with Frank Muytjens. Here are some excerpts, questions by Jean E. Palmieri:
How do you come up with novelty, given the inherent limits of men’s wear?
Men’s wear is almost like a framework. All the shapes are there and you can tweak them, but you have to keep it understandable. You want a guy to recognize it. There are only so elements you can play with. That’s a challenge, but it’s also what I find interesting.
Which artists inspire you?
Many. [Constantin] Brancusi, Fairfield Porter – he’s a great American painter. The Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen – I love his clean lines. The photography of Irving Penn… I also look at nature. I love the California coast – Big Sur, Muir Woods. I’ve always been a bit of an outdoorsy guy, and that translates well [in my designs]. Nothing is too precious or too elegant – there should always be a tougher, masculine edge to it.
Who are your style icons?
They’re all dead, but I love Montgomery Clift and how he dressed, Jacques Cousteau’s striped Ts, The Clash, and Brancusi – he had great style. With people like this, it seemed more genuine, less thought out. There were no hair and makeup people. It’s hard to see personal style anymore.
What’s up next?
For fall, we have Crescent Down Works and Russell Moccasins. [Russell's] factory is about as big as this room, and their process has been in place for such a long time now. It makes me appreciate the craftmanship even more because you know what’s behind it.
On a side note, the first issue of Menswear is pretty decent and has some interesting profiles on several different designers and companies along with current industry trends – pick it up at your local Barnes & Noble. I know I’ve spent six dollars on worse things.
Related post: Frank Muytjens in Free & Easy