Having taken last season off to design his inaugural line for GANT, yesterday marked Michael Bastian's return to the runways. While previous collections delved into the worlds of Andalucían cowboys and Latin American jefes, the Gant collaboration seems to have Bastian thinking about sartorial themes of the American male. And, judging from yesterday's expansive 43 look collection, he's been thinking -- and designing -- in overdrive. How lucky we are for it.

Michael Bastian's work is about a rarefied, almost romantic, sense of masculinity, one that perhaps only exists in the Technicolor world of film. As the violin strains of a classical cover of Roxette's "Listen to your Heart" began, from student to boxer, from mechanic to ranch-hand, Bastian explored the archetype of the American male, doing so under the lens of a 1950s James Dean aesthetic -- literally and figuratively, as some of the eyeglasses in the show were the same models worn by Dean in the 1950s. The more formal pieces were framed within a woodsman context -- with double-breasted dinner-jackets paired with plaid trousers, and plaid day-jackets matched with raw denim jeans, the only thing missing was an axe with which to chop down trees. Particular strong points included a grey double-belted pant, and a powder blue dinner jacket with a black shawl-collar. There was, at tim es, a very collegiate feel to the collection, though these boffinish undertones of seersucker corduroy blazers and rugby-shirts-on-polo-shirts don't in any way detract from the strength of the Bastian's ideal male. To Bastian, inside all of us, there is a rebel -- one that needn't have a cause except to be very well dressed.

PAPERMAG's Complete Spring 2012 Fashion Coverage