A conversation with Chris Bastin on this season’s foodie inspiration
As the Creative Director of GANT, Chris Bastin took the unlikely realms of food and restaurant life and embedded it into the DNA of his upcoming Fall/Winter 2012 collection. Known for crazy dinner parties in Stockholm, Bastin weighs in on what we can expect from his latest range.
Your Fall/Winter 2012 collection is intimately connected to three related pillars: food, eating and the modern restaurant scene in New York. How did this idea come to play? What inspired this foodie collection?
I’ve always been interested in cooking and food. It struck me that there has been a strong connection between what has been happening with the whole Americana-heritage scene and the slow food movement. Both pay close attention to quality and process. It felt natural to let these two influential movements merge together—weird as that may seem.
You’ve compared the process of cooking to the process of making clothes—how so?
Both begin with a sort of mise en place—the basics you need to either create a good dish or a great garment. We’ve always looked at GANT Rugger as a great example of the perfect wardrobe. Start with the classics and bare essentials and then move up the ladder to quirky pieces and not-so-essential gear. It’s kind of like complementing a simple pasta with a very good red wine. The biggest difference is that while a collection takes about six months, a killer meal can be put together in ten minutes. That’s the exact amount of time you need to whip up pasta aglio e olio. Then there’s the whole aspect of quality. If you want to make the best food, you’ll need good ingredients. The same goes for a shirt.
The collection is comprised of two “characters” so to speak–the restaurateur and the chef. How would you define these two roles as they related to your collection?
GANT Rugger is a heritage and vintage driven line but there is also a big chunk of sprezzatura that we wanted to come through. The chef ended up being the “vintage nerd” and the owner was given more room to show off and be the peacock—a winning combination.
How did you ensure these two characters were portrayed in your lookbook?
The chef took care of the denim and utility gear while the owner always got the more dressed up looks. You can clearly see these two characters in our fall lookbook.
There’s also a “third character” in some ways–the products that accompany the clothing. Can you tell me a little bit about what these are? Also, why were these products integral to the formation of this collection?
Sometimes I wonder if this whole collection was just an excuse to design a chef’s knife and an apron in selvage denim. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to design their own knife? That is like a dream come true. And to work with someone like Michael Lishinsky at Wildfire Cutlery in Portland, Oregon was the icing on the cake. That dude is the best.
I know you’re a total foodie–what are some of your favorite restaurants around the globe?
In Stockholm I have to say Daphne’s, for the crowd and the ambience. In NYC, Omen has great Japanese food. The Standard Grill is amazing for breakfast. Italy is easy; basically go into any place that looks like crap as long as someone who looks like your grandma is behind the stove. She’s probably going to serve up the best pasta you’ve ever had.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
Right now it’s pulled pork. Since I bought this monster of a thing from Weber I just want to smoke stuff, low temp. I’ve smoked everything with a heartbeat in the past year.
I hear you throw crazy dinner parties in Stockholm. How do I score an invite?
That’s probably the best rumor I’ve ever heard. But it’s totally untrue though. But hey, bring a nice bottle of red and ring the doorbell.
What can we expect from the ad campaign which I hear will feature two individuals immersed in the food world?
Definitely amazing pictures, good styling and a slightly chubbier designer. We collaborated with Ben and Phil from The Fat Radish this time around. The guys look great in our clothes, and of course we think the food at their restaurant in New York City’s Lower East side is simply amazing.
There’s been much talk about “unkempt sprezzatura”–what exactly is this?
Has there, really? I’m very happy anyone even noticed. I think the term is quite clever. It’s about getting out of bed, throwing on whatever and still looking like a million bucks. It’s a look based on American sportswear mixed with Italian flair, but without all the fuss.