Scott Sternberg's Band Of Outsiders may be a fixture on the New York fashion week schedule, but S/S 2012 is only its sophomore season on the catwalk. That said, catwalk or no catwalk Sternberg has always eschewed conventional fashion presentation, and when facing the blank canvas that is Pitti Immagine, he let his own imagination run away with him. What we got was a show - in the good, old-fashioned Broadway-sense of the word, with musical favourites pumping out beforehand, and then a gang of West Side Story chorus-boys giving it all-that-jazz in front of a disused cigar factory lit up with Kliegs like a Busby Berkley number. Sounds surreal for any fashion climate: for the staid suiting-and-booting that characterises Pitti, it was a revelation.
If the presentation was geared-up to startle the horses, Sternberg played a little safer when it came to the clothes themselves. Band Of Outsiders established style is a twisted, witty take on preppy - and that sells, evidenced by the fact that the label has expanded to include a women's line. Actually, two - titled 'Girl' and somewhat contrarily, 'Boy'. Both showed resort alongside the main menswear, and all were pretty much speaking the same language. This time, there was lots of white - across the clothes, across the model's lips, bleaching out gingham, with shiny moccasins glossed-up in primary-shaded oilcloth. There was a touch of the eighties to those looks, underlined by the shrunken proportions of sharp suits (switching between notched and peaked lapels in a neat nod, perhaps, to Pitti's tailoring tradition). The girls had an easy time of it too, in tailored denim pleated skirts with matching blazers, teetering atop Manolo Blahnik stilleto-heel sneakers.
Eighties punks were cited by Sternberg as an influence, and there was a touch of subversion to the details in these clothes - but, on the whole, they were well brought-up and well-behaved. The cliche of the East coast WASP piercing his ear and doing 'punk' the summer before entering Ivy League rang true - there was a tocuh of punk, but never enough to rock the boat (or, indeed, the boat-shoes - a collaboration with Top-sider). The show slightly stole the show, truth be told - but these looks were prep with extra pep. And besides, what better advertisement for the easy, breezy but never cheesy wearability of Band Of Outsiders than this all-singing all-dancing all-energy razzmatazz?