Honored as Menswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2011, the multi-talented Michael Bastian designs for two highly successful brands: a label under his own name and a collaboration with American-Swedish fashion house GANT. The latter is Bastian's take on a more casual look, priced for a larger crowd than his eponymous label. This season, GANT by Michael Bastian is a full collection that captures the whole lifestyle of a retro-inspired look on contemporary Americana for men and women tops, bottoms and accessories. The line seamlessly mixes textiles and prints, from herringbone and stripes to tartan and tweed, with hits of mod-inspired accessories and detail. Here, Bastian speaks to TIME about his collaboration with GANT, why this recent collection was the most personal of his career and what he has planned for next year.
Tell me about the inspiration for this season's collection. How did you come about it?
This is probably the most personal collection of my career. It's about my time in Boston in the 80s, when there was a mod revival. It's a movement that I was part of, and I have always wanted to do it, so we fleshed it out this season.
What are your favorite pieces from the line?
I find that question so hard to answer because they're all my babies. I always find myself loving the pieces that are invisible, more anonymous things that people can wear everyday. There are a lot pieces that we do for the show, but my real favorites are the ones that people can buy and wear for 10 years.
Is there a person's style, alive or dead, that really inspires you?
The person that I really look back on as someone whose style I really love is John F. Kennedy Jr. He epitomized the all-American guy whose style was always right. [He] would mix things up with a sporty element, a tailored element or a crazy accessory. It's a real shame we lost him.
Who are you favorite, let's say, three designers or brands of all time? I know it's hard to choose.
Well, my number one of all time, and it has always been, is Perry Ellis [when he was still designing for the brand]. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Ralph Lauren: he really paved the way for all-American menswear designers. And, I really love Claire McCardell, who was sweet and had a good sense of humor about fashion.
What's the inspiration locale to for next season?
You know, that's funny, we've actually already designed for Spring-Summer 2013. GANT works so far in advance that we have everything designed well ahead of time... I can tell you that it's going to be a place in South America. We're really taking you on a trip next season.