[tps_header]When it comes to mastering the modern woman’s style, San Francisco icheative turned New York designer, Derek Lam knows how to stimulate the fashion senses. The Parson school graduate and former Michael Kors designer has carved out a niche in the design world for himself with a modern aesthetic that exemplifies the chic city girl.
His diffusion line Derek Lam 10 Crosby, named for a downtown street where he found inspiration from fashionable young women who walked about, is a lesson in modernism. Marked by classic lines and relaxed silhouettes, it’s perfect for the woman with a transitional lifestyle – from the office and meetings to date-night and an evening on the town with friends.
Before watching a presentation of limited-edition pieces from his 10 Crosby collection at Neiman Marcus, Scottsdale Fashion Square, I sat with the eponymous designer, who shared that this was his first visit to Arizona and he looked forward to spending the weekend checking out local vintage shops. He sported a preppy chic look featuring a white button down shirt, khaki chinos, and navy sneakers. He sipped Perrier while we chatted about his design inspiration, his style hero, and why as a beach lover, he will never be a surfer.
What do you believe distinguishes the Derek Lam line from the 10 Crosby line?
I think the Derek Lam line is more in the vein of a classic designer collection where we’re really dealing with luxury, whether it’s in the fabrication, the cuts, the ideas behind it Derek Lam 10 Crosby is more about a lifestyle and how – I don’t want to say young person – but it’s that young mentality, this modern mentality of you want fashion but you also want the accessibility.
How would you describe the Derek Lam 10 Crosby woman?
I think she’s someone obviously interested in design, and she’s obviously interested in quality, luxury – but it has to work in her terms and her lifestyle.
How do you feel about trends? Should we embrace them or do you think we should focus on our own independent style?
I think you can have both. I think a trend that captures your imagination and you feel is something that touches you is some kind of memory or the way you want to look or how you aspire to present yourself, I say go for it. I mean if it’s a color or if it’s a silhouette if you’re into the 70s or if you always wanted to kind of explore that part and it comes around the pike, why not … just recognize what trends really feel intrinsic to your style.
What inspires your designs?
I think that what I love to do is kind of find that modern edge of American style. Everything that we know about great American style and then kind of pushing it to a kind of edge that seems really relevant in this moment. Not over the edge, not avant-garde. – it’s really just on that knife edge of what’s happening.
What are the essential pieces every woman needs in her wardrobe arsenal?
Well, it’s interesting because when I approach design each season we do think in those terms, besides the aspirational kind of inspiration part of fashion, I also want to provide those key pieces in a woman’s wardrobe, especially for when you find it at Derek Lam 10 Crosby. So I say a soft cardigan-like jacket, has the tailoring, but still the likeness and softness of a sweater. I think for the season a structured A-line skirt that’s a little bit shorter, is a nice turn for the eye. We’ve been known for our 2-in-1’s, where we have sweatshirt and shirting combination and then this season we did it as a dress, so it’s a sweatshirt and dress tunic that has the poplin peaking out from underneath. I think the jumpsuits, I love them … just the ease of it, being that they’re trousers without the fuss of so many layers. There are things like a great easy sunburst pleated skirt, longer length that’s light as a breeze that you can easily slip into your wardrobe. We showed it underneath a longer sweater so you’re playing with different proportions.
What gadget can you not live without?
The iPad. It’s still mind-blowing to me how much I use it.
You’re a busy designer, how do you rid yourself of stress?
I think to remove myself from the daily stress or what can be stressful at work would be to get away to the beach. I have a little house on the beach not far from New York City.
So it definitely means you won’t be looking for a house here – no beaches!
I love the view of the water and I love the tranquility of seeing the waves, but I don’t really love the beach actually. I prefer the desert.
So no surfing?
Yeah, well that’s one of the things people ask me ‘well if you wanted to be something that’s totally fantastic, you probably want to be a surfer. But I have such a fear of water, that it’s almost like a fantasy.
So, Derek Lam has not yet done a menswear line, so when you shop, where do you go? Who’s your favorite designer?
I wear a variety. I think that I go to people that I really value. I dress in a very classic style. I always say that James Dean is basically my wardrobe hero, you know, he’s all American classic and almost like a uniform. So when I can find that kind of style, whether it’s at J.Crew, or Prada, or Jil Sander (he jesters to the white button-down shirt he’s wearing) … I always think men look best when there a little bit in the background and let the women kind of [stand out].
If you were a Chic Spy Agent, what would be your code name?
Oh, there’s so much you can play off of Derek (laughs) what can we say, down-low Derek?[/tps_header]