NEW YORK — As far as Peter Som is concerned, his turn at Bill Blass is going to be all about ease. It's apparently his favorite word when it comes to describing the look of his pre-fall collection, his first for the house since being appointed creative director in July.
"There was definitely this sleek sort of ease that I wanted to impart," he says, pointing to a sequined silk tulle cocktail dress in Blass' Seventh Avenue headquarters on Wednesday. "That made [the pre-fall collection] very Blass for me.
"Blass is all about opposites," he continues, this time referring to a gray-and-blue floral-printed cashmere coat. "Like a summer print, but in a wool, with an ease to it." The same goes for a cashmere jersey cocoon dress with pink sequined shoulders. "All this hand-embroidery and this cashmere and jersey," says Som. "That, to me, is Blass — effortless, easy evening."
In fact, the entire pre-fall range was inspired by the "sense of ease" Som found when he mined Blass' look books from 1969 and 1970, the house's launch seasons. "I thought it was interesting to see when Mr. Blass started his collection," says Som of his idea of going straight to Blass' roots. What he found was true-blue American sportswear that goes from day to evening with "a little bit of a wink and a nudge." Som translated that into a mix of luxe furs, eveningwear — hammered silk columns, a bell-shaped, washed duchesse dress, numerous looks done up with floral embroideries — and men's wear-inspired day clothes such as tailored waiter's jackets, wide-legged trousers and bow-neck blouses. The largely gray and white palette features shots of color including cerise and teal, which, according to Som, were a twist on red, white and blue and intended as an ode to Blass' sportswear heritage and Jasper Johns' American flags.
Still, Som kept the Americana homage subtle. After all, Blass is not about trying too hard. "I think that's the most luxurious kind of luxury," says Som. "To look amazing and like you didn't try at all."
While Som's design ethos might be effortless chic, he's certainly working hard to introduce a new customer to the house. Since its founder's death in 2002, Bill Blass has continued to produce clothes for its original clientele — mature society women who are at this point very grown up — but has failed to create any cross-generational appeal. The revolving door of designers that followed, not to mention some straight-up bad clothes, left many wondering what Bill Blass was all about. Som maintains that Blass owner NexCen Brands didn't deliver a mandate, yet he seems well aware of his charge.
"I think they brought me in knowing that I am a sportswear designer, and I'm not about unwearable, crazy, over-the-top things," says Som, who opened his own collection for fall 1999. "But we want to bring in a new customer. There's a younger attitude. There's a mother-daughter thing. We want to bring in the daughter and people who maybe haven't thought about Blass in a while."
Som came in on the heels of Michael Vollbracht, who departed the house in May after four years at its helm, but it's not Som's first stint at Blass. Shortly after graduating from Parsons in the mid-Nineties, he worked as an assistant designer under Bill Blass himself. "I think there's the feeling that hopefully I understand what the collection's about, having worked here with [Blass]," he says. "Hopefully I'll be able to bring something new to the table."
That said, Som asserts that the slate has been wiped clean, right down to the showroom space, where he had the walls painted white and installed new gray carpet.
Of course, resuscitating a major American label involves more than a new coat of paint and floor treatments. But, while the pressures he faces may be large, Som's transition appears to be as effortless as his new Blass aesthetic. When asked how he's handling the stress of two collections, he admits things are more hectic, but says it could be worse.
"There's a lot more scheduling, but my office is right down the street," he says. "They should install a chairlift." And coincidentally, the next time Som is inclined to mine Blass' archives, he need only take the stairs — which are located in the same building as his Peter Som studio. "See," he says. "It was meant to be."
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)