Manly Men Descend on Fashion Week — in Long Johns

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Photo: Courtesy of Commonwealth Utilities

Three seasons ago, Anthony Keegan and Richard Christiansen of Commonwealth Utilities debuted at Fashion Week with a small presentation in their downtown showroom, in which hunky male models changed before guests. Last night, Keegan and Christiansen held a runway show in the still-under-construction Nomad Hotel on Broadway and 28th Street. Though wires dangled from the ceiling and we tripped on the torn-up floor more than a few times, it was, aesthetically, the perfect backdrop for the fall collection. Some in the audience loudly bemoaned the label's audacity to show in a venue with no heat at the end of the fourth day of Fashion Week (going to shows is SO HARD). But the label provided guests with a complete mountaineer's experience, including hot cider and hand warmers.

No one showed up to protest the military medals Commonwealth sent out with the invitation. Long johns were a focal point of the utilitarian collection. Some models wore them solo down the runway. As for others, Keegan explained, "We even cropped the pants a little shorter so you could just see the long johns coming out the bottom. It’s like upside-down socks." But why long johns? Why now? "Because it’s a comfort factor," Keegan said. "It’s also really sexy. Did you see their legs? Were you not there?"

Though the label has evolved, their choice in models hasn't, which is a good thing. They somehow always succeed in casting the hottest male models — such as show-opener Chad White — of New York Fashion Week. "We want men, not boys," Keegan said. "Wouldn’t you? I don’t want skinny boys. I like kind of fit, athletic men. If I was in the mountain and if I needed to, like, have someone chop wood, I’d want one of those model guys to come out and be able to do it. Because if someone asked me to do it I’d be like" — he gestured as though smoking a cigarette.

In keeping with the masculine theme, flasks were given in place of goody bags. Keegan said they had wanted to serve hot toddies with whiskey, though ultimately couldn't get a permit to serve booze in the space. "We were pushing the idea of a stronger, masculine collection. Instead of serving Champagne, we thought serving whiskey would be more appropriate," Keegan said. We sussed out a straight man in the audience and asked if he thought the show was masculine. "Yes," he said. "At least by fashion standards."