By  on July 20, 2010

NEW YORK — What do Gant and Marilyn Monroe have in common? Designer Michael Bastian was thinking of the screen siren and the geeky men in her life when he came up with his first women’s collection, which is for Gant.

There were the obvious examples, such as Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, but Bastian dug deeper and found a well of inspiration in “Niagara,” Henry Hathaway’s 1953 film noir classic that starred Monroe. While working on the campaign for the men’s line, Bastian wondered just how the female counterpart to this man would dress, and when Gant executives encouraged him to add a few women’s looks, the men’s wear designer jumped at the chance.

“I had never been in women’s before,” Bastian said, during an exclusive preview of the first Gant by Michael Bastian women’s collection for spring. “It’s learning a whole new language. I watched the dynamic between these people in ‘Niagara.’ She had to be sexy and edgy.”

Don’t expect the resulting 53-piece collection to target Monroe-esque sex symbols. For his first outing, Bastian didn’t turn his back on Gant’s preppy Americana roots. Instead, the launch collection is preppy with a sexy attitude, from a seersucker dress with lace overlay — “I thought it had a good-girl/bad-girl dynamic” — to a cropped and boxy shirt that could have come straight from a boyfriend’s wardrobe and a wrap cardigan that was directly inspired by a photo George Barris took of Marilyn Monroe on the Santa Monica, Calif., beach in 1962.


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