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Reed Krakoff Talks Phillips Honor, Made in USA

The designer will stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Edward Hopper and Willem de Kooning when he is honored by The Phillips Collection.

Reed Krakoff

WASHINGTON — Designer Reed Krakoff will stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of great American masters such as Alexander Calder, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper and Willem de Kooning when he is honored for his contribution to American fashion, photography and art by The Phillips Collection later this month.

This story first appeared in the May 7, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Phillips is celebrating American art and design with its newest exhibition, “Made in the USA: American Masters from the Phillips Collection, 1850-1970,” and will honor Krakoff at its annual gala in the nation’s capital on May 16.

The honor couldn’t come at a better time for Krakoff, who acquired control of his namesake business with a group of investors last year and is expanding his brand globally and locally. A signature store is slated to bow in Paris in the fall and Krakoff said he is also considering a location in the nation’s capital.

“American design and the world of American art has always been one of the biggest repositories of inspiration for me my whole career,” Krakoff said.

The designer ticked off a list of American artists that have influenced him over the years of a design career that has spanned from Anne Klein and Ralph Lauren to Coach Inc. and now as creative director and chief executive officer of Reed Krakoff Co.

“I love de Kooning and Calder, but I also love Winslow Homer,” he said. “I think about it more in the way of why they did what they did at the time, the historical context, what was happening in the world, the subject matter and materials or scale, and that is really what influences me.”

A Phillips spokeswoman called Reed a “bold and fearless” leader who took control of his namesake business and embodies the spirit of The Phillips Collection founder Duncan Phillips, who spent decades curating and cultivating the museum’s permanent collection of mainly American art. Krakoff said he is honored to be recognized by The Phillips, which he has visited since his younger days because of its “bond with American art.”

He has designed a series of handbags for a silent auction benefiting The Phillips, including a one-of-a-kind handbag inspired by Calder. That bag is part of a package that includes a styling by Saks Fifth Avenue Club and an invitation to be a guest at Krakoff’s fall 2015 show during New York Fashion Week in February.

The museum’s Made in America theme has some resonance with the movement in the fashion industry to shift more apparel production back to the U.S. after decades of offshoring, which has opened up new options for designers, Krakoff said.

“You have options that weren’t there before or haven’t seen in a very long time,” Krakoff said.

Krakoff, who is on the board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, has worked with the group to stimulate manufacturing in New York’s Garment District.

“There is a lot of interest now about how things come to market,” he added. “Some of it is related to where it was made and some of it is related to how it was made. I think there is a hunger for this narrative of how it became what it became and I think Made in America is a piece of that.”