Behind the Collections

Derek Lam

When Derek Lam visits Greenwich to preview his fall collection, the fashion crowd shows up. Any woman worth her Vogue subscription knows that Lam’s presence in the world of womenswear has been a refreshing one–creating new takes on classic American sportswear. His fall pieces are no different, blending feminine silhouettes with rich colors and luxe leather. Before his presentation at Richards, Lam sat down with us to discuss his latest work.

What was your inspiration for the fall collection?

The inspiration is a very modern take on Southeast Asian Buddhist architecture and art.

Were you traveling there?

I always go there. It’s usually something I think about for hot weather but I wanted to do something for winter.

Do you always have a customer in mind when designing a new collection? 

No, not one person. It’s really trying to understand how all women live their lives. I don’t like to use one person, one muse. It’s cliché now. I don’t think one person encompasses the dimension that a modern woman has.

What’s your favorite piece from the collection? 

There are so many. I don’t really do head-to-toe ensembles. It’s really about individual sportswear pieces, but there’s a lavender coat that I love, along with the leathers and suedes. I also love a classic cashmere wool pea coat. What I try to do is make each piece special. It’s about basics, but in a way that you can mix the pieces together.

Take us through the process from concept to creation for a collection.

It comes all at once. You’re creating your color palette. You’re looking at fabrics. You’re spending time with silhouette. It’s not really a sequence, it’s more that everything comes together.

How does your vision evolve along the way?

For me, what’s worked is if I stay true to it. Once it’s kind of coalesced into something that can do all of the things I need it to do—being commercial as well as being something to show–you kind of know what to stick to. It’s very easy to get waylaid if you don’t stick to something.

At what point do you plan out the accessories?

With shoes, I definitely think of them very early on because I really like to look at the silhouette, to think about how the look is going to be presented. A lot of times the height of the shoe or the kind of shoe will kind of determine the silhouette.

How much does your own style influence the way you design?

I think that the way I dress, like most designers, we don’t want to think too much about it. We just sort of wear our uniform, but I definitely look to art and architecture when I build a womenswear collection. I’m always intrigued by color and form.

Why did you choose to make a personal appearance in Greenwich? 

For me, that’s really a pleasure because I need that conversation with women. It informs the work that I do. I can’t be a designer in an ivory tower and not know what’s going on. And Greenwich is in my neighborhood so it makes sense.

What are some of the biggest trends you see coming for Fall 2014?

I’ve heard a lot of people say color, which is very unusual. That’s what’s interesting in fashion right now. There’s really not this overarching trend concept because you have much more diverse consumers who are looking to dress themselves the way they want to dress. There are a lot more designers and brands so there’s not some cohesive trend that everybody needs to follow. I think it makes it much more interesting because a woman can really say, ‘Well, this is my style’ and follow her own way. I think that most of us aren’t beholden to a brand so it’s really up to the designers and brands to make the clients excited to come back season after season.

Sylva & Cie.

Sylva Yepremian loves a dirty diamond. The beauty of her namesake jewelry line, Sylva & Cie, lies in her ability to create one-of-a-kind pieces, combining rare antique finds with precious stones and metals. After years of training with her father, a master craftsman at Cartier Paris, she launched a contemporary collection that spoke of her love of the past. We met up with the designer at her Mitchells trunk show to talk about her covetable jewels.

Do you remember the first piece that you created?

The first thing that I did was my own ten table [ring] with these old, broken, dirty diamonds. I thought people would think ‘This is the ugliest thing in the world,’ but I love it. Every time I wear it, people respond to it. There was also an opal skull. I found an opal and I wanted my brother, who’s a sculptor, to carve it into a skull. People wanted to buy it off me. So I made others and it grew into a line. It just happened from there.

Tell us about the piece you’re wearing now.

It’s a cicada and my favorite piece right now. It’s carved out of Kingman turquoise, which is an American turquoise. I carve them into these characters. I love Georgian jewelry and I go back to that. There were a lot of sentimental themes or things that were related to nature. That inspires me.  A lot of what I do has a layer of whimsy or something that goes back to yesteryear, something that might not necessarily be just for the sake of beauty or made out of diamonds.

Can you walk us through your design process?

I always think, ‘no one’s going to get this’. With the skulls, I made the first Romeo & Juliet for myself and I loved the idea—death covered in diamonds. I came to Mitchells for my first trunk show and someone bought it off my neck. People always ask, ‘Who’s your client?’ Everybody. It’s like walking into a room and seeing a beautiful piece of antique furniture. You don’t have to be a certain age to appreciate the beauty, balance, design, creativity and craftsmanship. It’s that small percentage that’s gone through the Chopard Happy Diamond or her Cartier bangle and she wants something that’s a little bit off the beaten path.

How does your own style influence the way you design?

I’m selfish. I make what I want. I’ve found over the years that it’s more successful if I’m true to myself, and I always have to remind myself of that. Sometimes I’ll think of something while I’m buying material and I’ll think of the economics and price point,  and it’s always a mistake. It’s much more emotional. I have to feel it. If I love it, then I’m sure somebody else out there is going to love it too.

What about the Deco pieces and antique jewelry speaks to you?

The Georgian era, to me, is the most interesting. Jewelers made pieces that were so individualistic. They started with imperfect stones and they made something that really showcased their beauty. To me, to find that balance between creativity and craftsmanship and to have it scaled down to something beautiful is an art. The earlier Georgian and Victorian jewelry are so close to their natural state. It’s almost found treasure, rather than a perfectly cut stone, or a perfectly shaped pearl. I would rather work with pieces that were completely off shape and make them into a composition pleasing to the eye. That’s success in design. I appreciate things that are slightly asymmetrical,  not so perfect. It’s closer to nature. Nothing’s perfect in nature.

What materials are you focusing on right now?

I’m really into anything that’s rough—rough diamonds or anything Kingman turquoise. I goes through phases. Last year I was obsessed with yellow pearls and  couldn’t buy enough. This year, I’m single-handedly bringing turquoise back. Dirty turquoise is my favorite.

When you’re not working, what are you doing for inspiration?

Looking at old jewelry. It’s pathetic. That’s what relaxes me. I love looking at art, and antique furniture. I love going to flea markets.

Deborah Lloyd For Kate Spade

It’s been twenty-one years since the iconic kate spade nylon handbag launched, instantly becoming the ‘it’ bag and establishing a line defined by classic staples with a quirky twist. Since 2007, President and Chief Creative Officer Deborah Lloyd has expanded the label into a lifestyle brand, producing season after season of pieces injected with sophistication and whimsy. Here, Lloyd talks about the newest designs and living in the colorful world that is kate spade new york.

How would you define the Kate Spade brand in 2014?

Our inspiration this year was travel; the kate spade new york girl always has places to go and people to see. Each season we were inspired by a different destination. For Fall 2014, we were inspired by travels to the East–Shanghai, Tokyo and the Transcontinental express.

What are the three words that define the 2014 collection?

It is a balance of art deco, classic femininity juxtaposed against urban modernity.

The fall collection has such vibrant pops of color. What was the inspiration?

One of the cities we were inspired by this season was Tokyo—I love the bright electric flashes of color at night.

Do you always have a woman in mind when designing a new collection?

We like to say that the kate spade new york girl is quick and curious and playful and strong. She is bold and adventurous—she likes to stand out in a crowd. We love designing statement pieces with her in mind.

Do you have a favorite bag from this season?

I am excited to carry the Alice Street Adriana this fall—it is a chic oversized satchel that is perfect for toting around all the essentials.

Do you have a favorite bag from the brand to date?

One of my favorites is our iconic 2 Park Avenue Beau bag.

How much has living in New York city changed  your design aesthetic?

New York City is an endless source of inspiration for me. There is always something interesting to look at, whether it’s what girls are wearing to work on my morning subway commute or the bright lights and strong architecture that surrounds me.

What’s one accessory that will instantly glamorize your look?

A bright red lipstick or an oversized cocktail ring.

What fashion risks should women take?

Women should embrace color. It can start with something as simple as a colored heel or a handbag. A bold statement coat can make a strong impression whether it is in a bright color or a graphic print. There should always be one piece in an outfit that stands out and starts a conversation.

What are five items we’d always find in your handbag?

My iPhone, a notebook with my white Montblanc pen so I can write down my thoughts, a tube of my favorite lipstick (kate spade new york’s Supercalifragilipstick! in precocious pink), a carryall wallet and a great pair of sunglasses.

Are there any handbag rules that every woman should follow?

Every woman should invest in one great satchel that not only looks good, but functions well.


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