American Style in NYC, This Fall and Beyond
By Hillary Latos
New York City is known as one of the unequivocal fashion capitals of the world, and the perfect embodiment of American style. It's the breeding ground for some of the most iconic American labels in history, and a hotbed for the next generation of fashion icons. On the eve of New York Fashion Week, when the most anticipated styles of Spring 2016 will grace the runways, we spoke to fashion influencers to get their perspective on the industry and what's hot for fall.
Velvet: SoCal-Cool on the UES
As dress codes in the workplace have become more relaxed, the easygoing-yet-polished look has been happily embraced by New Yorkers. Velvet perfectly represents that effortlessly chic Southern California aesthetic. Launched in 1997 by friends Jenny Graham and Toni Spencer, Velvet is produced solely in the U.S., and the brand can be found in leading department stores and boutiques nationwide, and now in Velvet boutiques on Madison Avenue and in Southampton.
Resident Magazine: Tell me a bit about your decision to launch in the Hamptons and NY this year.
Jenny Graham: We've always wanted an East Coast presence. The whole idea of the Hamptons fits perfectly with our customer, so we jumped at the chance to be there. The Madison Ave. store was a long time coming. We waited and waited to get the best location we possibly could; being on the Upper East Side is a dream come true. We knew where we wanted to be and what we wanted our store to look like. We've been planning for some time!
RM: How do you think the LA style translates to NY?
Toni Spencer: LA style in general is pretty misunderstood, and I think in the past it's been unfairly dismissed. There's no doubt a laid-back influence to it, thanks to the easygoing way of life, but that doesn't mean we're all wafting around in old tees and frayed cut-offs. To me, the LA aesthetic is really about understated, cool style. Girls here have a very unique way of putting stuff together that looks utterly effortless. I think the fashion world has really come to appreciate this lately. To answer your question, I think LA style translates perfectly to NY. What New Yorker doesn't want to look understated, cool, and chic?
RM: How did you get started in designing and working together?
JG: We met back in the late 90s at a mutual friend's dinner party. We immediately hit it off, couldn't stop talking, and before long starting plotting how we could work together. We have a very fluid, productive design relationship. We're sort of two sides of the same coin.
RM: What do you think are some of the key pieces and silhouettes for fall?
TS: The peacoat is our favorite jacket silhouette for fall—we did a long version and a shorter, blazer style. The oversized, slouchy boyfriend cardigan with the flirty, girly dress is also a look we love, especially when it's transitioning and you don't want to bundle up in loads of layers, and you still want to feel super cute. The dolman sleeve sweater is also a great retro 70s silhouette that's very on-trend, but classic. It's a great way to look chic and casual, which is kind of our whole M.O.
RM: What was your inspiration for the fall collection?
JG: We're inspired by eclectic and wide-ranging sources. It could be a movie or an exhibit we attend; all our cultural scavenging sort of meshes together on the mood board, and out of that we build our collection. For this season, we were loving Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, Ali McGraw in Love Story, and images of Marianne Faithful in her Mick era. We were thinking about classic Americana and Native American textiles, hence the plaid and fringe. There's also a slightly preppy influence. All these ideas are filtered through our signature, laid-back California aesthetic.
Etienne Aigner: Reclaiming and Revitalizing a Heritage Brand
Etienne Aigner was originally a bookbinder during WWI, later designing bespoke handbags for haute couture houses such as Christian Dior and Hermes, before launching his eponymous line. The line experienced ebbs and flows over the last 50 years, becoming over-distributed and diluted—and disappeared for a number of years—until its latest resuscitation last year under the design direction of Daniela Bardazzi.
To keep the heritage of the brand, while making it current and simultaneously launching a ready-to-wear line, Bardazzi spends time trying to rebuild Aigner's archives through vintage shopping and careful research.
Resident Magazine: Who or what was your inspiration behind the latest collection?
Daniela Bardazzi: We were listening to Patty Smith while designing, and we were working with a lot of texture. We chose a waxy finish leather and created a moto jacket with a croc emboss, and used it in our handbags and shoes. Our imagery was 'what if Patty Smith had to open for the Ballet Russe; what would she wear?' Our version of a Chelsea boot was also inspired by her, with a block heel, almond toe, and heavy welts.
RM: What do you think will be the key shapes and materials for fall?
DB: We were opting for more opulence this season, using the phrase 'casual opulence,' so you can get up and go anywhere, but there's an ease to it. We used a lot of neoprene—but a more refined version that's thinner and lighter, which was used in dresses and pants that felt structured yet soft. We loved that juxtaposition with a refined silhouette.
RM: What are some of your favorite pieces?
DB: I really fell for the crop pant paired with a longer vest. We're all about the saddle bag, as well. We brought it back from a heritage piece and made it in a moto way. My favorite shoe is a flat boot with a scrunched ankle that is very beatnik-inspired.
RM: How have you woven the heritage of Etienne Aigner in the line to speak to today's women?
DB: He had an industrialist spirit about him, and fashioned a lot of hardware from bits and hinges and found objects, and we kept his signature buckles that go onto every bag, and metal keepers that he always used; everything has a function.
Charriol: The Long-Awaited American Debut
As the daughter of luxury jeweler Phillipe Charriol, who established his namesake luxury watch and jewelry line in 1983, Coralie Charriol has grown up in the jewelry industry. The brand's signature pieces draw on Celtic culture, using steel and gold cable. They've been sold worldwide, but are launching the full line for the first time in the U.S this season. In her role as Creative Director, Coralie has reinvigorated the brand, adding a contemporary twist to the established lines, drawing from her cosmopolitan, jetset sensibility.
Resident Magazine: What challenges have you faced entering the U.S. Market for the full line?
Corolie Charriol: Charriol has been in the U.S. for the past 30 years, selling watches and gold jewelry. However, for the first time in the U.S. we are selling the global steel and silver Charriol jewelry collection, which is the iconic trademark of the brand. It's the collection that I have been designing for the past few years. There are always challenges when introducing a new line, but that's the exciting part. We have planned several launch parties, exclusive trunk shows, and a global initiative promoting higher education for girls and women.
RM: How have you evolved the brand and direction?
CC: As the Creative Director, designing is a big part of my role in the company. Each jewelry collection is a result of my own life and travel experiences, interpreting those into a collection of pieces that are luxurious yet practical. The focus is on the Charriol customer—always thinking of what they want next, and how to put a piece on their wrist, around their neck, or on their finger that will inspire them to be the person they want to be.
RM: What are some of your favorite pieces from the collection?
CC: The must-have pieces this year are the Forever bangles & St-Tropez 35 watch, a special new style of the popular St-Tropez collection, with a moon phase complication. The Forever bangles come in different colors and sizes, and I love stacking and collecting them—having an arm full of bangles. The beauty of the bangles is that they all match and can be worn together.
RM: How would you describe your aesthetic?
CC: My style is a mix between European and American, as I was born in Hawaii and raised between Hong-Kong, Paris, London, and New York. I have learned to mix my heritages. My father comes from France and has taught me all the good things in life. My mother, who was a model and interior designer, has taught me about aesthetic.
I love things that are unique—things that make a statement. I love finding the newest next 'it' piece. My style is chic but relaxed
RM: What do you like most about fall in NYC?
CC: Fall in NYC is the best!! It's always like an Indian summer. I love sneaking out to the beach or upstate for weekends, picking apples and eating roasted corn. The city feels cool and crisp, and so alive!