Scott Sternberg's Band Of Outsiders was a highlight of Pitti Immagine - in fact, it may be a highlight of a still-young season. After all, how could anyone top a re-staging of West Side Story as centrepiece to a fashion show? Especially when said show is all about all-American sportswear and easy, wearable pieces - perfectly displayed by pirouetting dancers in amongst those ever-strutting models.
Where did the inspiration come from? 'Right now it's always about doing what we feel,' says Creative Director Scott Sternberg by way of explaining where his inspirations came from for such an unabashed - and slightly unhinged - event. 'We never make serious clothes. It's about American sportswear staples reinterpreted with lots of imagination and humour, and fun, and really high-quality production. And we can make a really fun show.'
Fun was indeed the first word that leapt to mind, but Sternberg is a savvy businessman too: every model (obviously) and every dancer (less conventionally) was clad in Band Of Outsiders from head to toe (rammed into a dayglo plastic Top-side collab, or Manolo Blahnik spike-heeled sneaker). That encompassed not just the menswear mainline, but the womens collections 'Boy.' and 'Girl.', making their resort debut. 'I made the decision to start doing womenswear which means that I made the decision to start utilising the fashion machine to grow my business,' says Sternberg, of the decision to start showing his collections more formally on the catwalk. That's not to say he's enamoured with the idea of the fashion show. 'This system of shows is just too much… editors are overworked, designers are overworked,' Sternberg states - an all-too-true fact considering designer have now geared up for four showing seasons instead of two, not including couture or secondary lines. 'But the flipside is: I get to put on a musical! I get to indulge all my boyhood fantasies, to a somewhat captive audience.'
Not to coin a journalistic pun, but Sternberg and his team are indeed outsiders: West-Coast based, decamping to show in New York each season: 'We come to fashion week, do our thing, put on our jazz hands, then go back to LA and get back to work.' Ironically, that's exactly the same route taken by Band Of Outsiders' fellow Pitti Immagine guest designers, Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, but the results couldn't be more disparate. The outsider perspective send Rodarte into romantic reveries; for Band Of Outsiders, it's preppy reality and a West Coast ease, albeit with a twist. Sternberg relates it back to the Goddard film the label takes its moniker from 'It's a gangster movie about a gangster movie, and these are preppy clothes about preppy clothes.'