For fall 09, New York menswear designer Michael Bastian took us backpacking across the country with his heart on his sleeve (and scarf). Yesterday, he journeyed further south into Latin America for his SS 10 collection. One of the things I have always appreciated about Michael is his understanding of the need for consistency. His collection has evolved every season but many aspects of it that garnered fans initially are still present time after time. His fits have changed little since Fall 06 (He is still really the only choice for someone looking for a long and lean updated prep aesthetic). His models, like the one button peak lapel jacket, boxer-lined cutoffs and buttonless placket rugbys, see the light of day in every runway show. This was no different in yesterday’s showing at the EXIT ART space on 10th Ave. & W 35th St. Where he departed from the norm was his strong use of black; a real first for him. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of black for spring when he first mentioned it to me a couple months back. It certainly wasn’t the safest choice and in an economic climate where companies are going belly up seemingly every day, most designers just aren’t taking the risk. Thankfully for American menswear, Michael Bastian isn’t most designers. In sportswear, washed out blacks were complimented with shots of spring color like teal, yellow and bright greens. In tailored clothing, Michael’s use of Mother of Pearl buttons on a black blazer made his look feel less John Varvatos and more Battistoni. The result is a black story without the obvious, stereotypical color connotations. It wasn’t punk rock, it wasn’t weekend yuppie, it was only Michael Bastian. To me that’s a great thing.