District L got an eyeful of ADAM at New York Fashion Week from the front row- now, we take an even closer look at the mind behind the line, designer Adam Lippes. We sat down with (well, Skyped with) Adam and really found out why he's being hailed as the next savant of American sportswear.
District L : Thanks so much for agreeing to do this; my colleague Amanda and I have been following you for awhile now and we really love your work. We were at your last show, it was just fantastic and we were really floored by it.
Adam Lippes: Oh, thank you so much, it's always so nice to hear you know?
DL: So you must be so busy right now.
AL: It's been crazy- we've been traveling alot, alot, alot.
DL: Yeah, what have you been up to these past couple weeks?
AL: Well, we've launched a line for Mango so I was in Spain right after the show which was really fun and we did a lot of work, and then I came back here for the New York launch. Then I went to Paris for some fabric and for some interviews...
DL: Oh, were you at Premiere Vision?
AL: You know, Premiere Vision this season happened before the fashion show, it happened early.
DL: Oh man, did that throw you off at all?
AL: Well yeah, it threw me off a little because I couldn't go! We usually head over there, but this season we couldn't go so now we're just figuring out how to do fabric in New York which we usually do, half New York and half Paris.
DL: That must have made sourcing really difficult.
AL: Exactly, I mean most of the fabric mills have offices in New York but not all- its nice to dedicate at least three full days to fabric when you're over in Europe.
DL: I can imagine. So, it sound like you've been up to...alot then!
AL: Yeah, and then after that I was in London, and now I'm back here!
DL: Wow, so this was all the in course of two and a half weeks?
AL: It was an incredible amount of travel, really exhausting.
DL: So on the subject of the show, what was the inspiration behind the Fall 2009 collection anyway?
AL: You know, I went to see an exhibit in Boston at the Peabody Museum, it was an exhibition of these hand-tinted postcards from the mid-1800's in Japan. What they were were these typical scenes of Japan, from your Samurai swordsman to your Geisha girl to Mount Fuji, and they were all hand colored. The 1850's was when Japan first opened up to tourism, so they were tourist souvenirs, and they were also meant to excite people to come to see Japan. I was really inspired by the images, and the colors, and the whole idea; a lot of the collection came from that. The embroideries, the colors, and the textures.
DL: We could definitely see that with the colors in the collection.
AL: The textures too, one of our embroideries was inspired the Samurai uniform, with a metal sweatshirt, and we had some embroideries that were inspired by cherry blossoms, and we also did a sequined dress based on the shape of Mt. Fuji.
DL: The concentric circle print skirt with the asymmetrical silver sequined top?
AL: That's the one.
DL: That was definitely one of our favorites. Your inspiration is really amazing.
AL: Well you know, my inspiration usually comes from some kind of art source for me.
DL: Well like for Spring 2009 you did the collection inspired by the exhibit at the MOMA.
AL: Yeah exactly, the Color Field exhibit. It always starts there but the styles come more from what I'm feeling and what I see on the street. I'm not a super, super downtown designer in the New York sense; my aim is not to be the "coolest kid on the block". I see people being on trend, I think that being on trend is important, feeling modern, but not being trendy. There was a really, really great quote by...I can't remember who, but he said "if you're never trendy, you're never not trendy." It's true, you know, and I think that's my unique take on fashion.
DL: Well that makes sense, you did start out as a basics designer. Would you say that's impacted your current work?
AL: You know, I went to Cornell for Psychology and I knew I always wanted to be a fashion designer. Then I moved to New York and worked for Ralph Lauren but then within a year moved to Oscar de la Renta. I grew up at Oscar; I spent eight years there, became the creative director, and sort of learned fashion on the job from arguably one of the best teachers. He's from a classic background, he's a very classic designer and that really had an impact on me with making things that were beautiful, wearable, and made people look good. I want people to be able to wear clothes and I hate it when the clothing wears the person.
DL: That's a really interesting dichotomy you present. Speaking of your experience, how did you react to style.com's statement that you were the next "torchbearer for new generation in American sportswear"?
AL: I saw the writer about a week later at one those things and I was like "Oh my God, what a lie!" and she said 'Well, you know, we feel it's true" and it's a very big honor I think, because you know everyone has different images of American sportswear. I have to say though that I agree with her because that's what I'm trying to do- it's sometimes hard to stand out when you're not trying to be the trendiest, coolest designer in the world. In the fashion world we get obsessed with cool and new, and I think that there is room for other things besides that.
DL: You definitely have a more timeless aesthetic it seems. So speaking of that, what pieces from the Fall collection do you think are going to emerge as hits? What's been getting orders, what have people been calling after, what have you been experiencing so far with that?
AL: Anything with color. All the strong color pieces, the sequin embroideries, the sweatshirts, the outerwear, anything that is special whether its color, cut ,or embroidery. Embroidery has been really strong.
DL: I can imagine, especially with the emphasis on texture, I feel that people respond really positively to that.
AL: Totally, and I think people are looking for things that are special. Then comes price and value.
DL: Any plans for a resort collection?
AL: We're doing Holiday now, and Resort, and then we do Spring. Right now though we're doing Holiday and Resort.
DL: Well hopefully we get to see that too.
AL: Well, it's more of a presentation for our resort show. Sort of a style.com presentation.
DL: You know, it really seemed like there were a lot more presentations this time around.
AL: Yeah, there were. I really noticed that too, you know it was the first time we showed in the tents.
DL: Well yeah, last year you showed at the church in the seminary garden in Chelsea. We really thought that was fantastic.
AL: It was really cool, but I love the idea of coming to the Tents because it's like arriving at the center point for American fashion and it's an honor to be able to show there.
DL: Have you been following the shows in Milan, Paris, and London at all?
AL: I've been traveling a lot, so a little bit I have. I've seen some that I thought were really beautiful- I thought that was Lanvin was incredible, Raff Simmons, I thought the colors in Balenciaga were amazing.
DL: Are there any trends you've seen emerging as you've followed the shows in New York and the other cities that you've reacted positively to?
AL: No doubt 80's is a big, big trend. Those who can do it the best, it's not so much strong shoulders but more about the silhouette. I think it's the biggest trend to come out of this. Cutouts, another big trend, but I think it's more the 80's vibe. People are depressed, they want something fun; the 80's were really fun!
DL: It's no surprise people would hark back to that...it also falls within the spectrum of the 20 year rule right now too.
AL: Oh yeah, the 20 year spin.
DL: So just to wrap up, I have a couple brief questions for you. Favorite hangout?
AL: The Waverly.
DL: Clothing store?
AL: My own, of course!
DL: Place for inspiration?
AL: The street.
AL: Coco Brandolini.
DL: Well we'd really like to thank you for your time today, Adam. We really appreciate it, and we're really excited to see what you come out with next!
AL: Well thanks and your welcome, we really appreciate your support!
District L would like to thank Adam Lippes of ADAM and TJ Allers at Paul Wilmot Communications for making this interview possible.