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“Glamour” isn’t a term usually associated with Tim Hamilton. Since launching his men’s wear line two years ago, the designer has carved out a buzz-worthy niche for himself in preppy-meets-street-savvy wares — layered sweaters, striped T-shirts and slim-fit button-downs. He was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear in 2007 and 2008, and last month continued in his urban-sporty vein with a presentation during New York Fashion Week. Today, however, Hamilton will show another side: He’s launching his first women’s collection with a presentation at Paris’ Galerie Hussenot. And it’s about glamour of a bewitching and seductive sort.
In a nod to his Lebanese mother, whose style he describes as “a darker Elizabeth Taylor, Fifties-Sixties ‘La Dolce Vita’ glam,” Hamilton infused the lineup with a romantic Goth feel, tossing in a few period references in the Wiener Werkstätte and early 20th-century silhouettes. An elegant silk blouse comes with alluring cutouts at the shoulder, and another with fur sleeves, while skirts are intricately pleated and draped. Even the shoulder focus on structured gowns reads more gentle Edwardian than Eighties, though Hamilton delivers on strong, sharp tailoring as well. As for his debut palette: All black.
It’s a far cry from Hamilton’s men’s wear offerings (inspired by his father, a World War II veteran), which is why the New York-based designer staged his shows in different cities. He wanted to underscore the divergent sensibilities — with women’s being decidedly more European in feel. “Women shop in a different way; they look at things in a different way,” he said.
The women’s line veers away from Hamilton’s own industry experience, as well. The Iowa native got his start at Ralph Lauren, working his way up to designer in the men’s division. Then came stints at the Gap and J. Crew, where he helped launch the Madewell label. “A lot of changes happened in my personal life after that,” said Hamilton. “I realized, what do I have to lose? Life is too short.” Thus the launch of Hamilton’s eponymous collection in 2006. But now Hamilton said he feels secure enough in men’s — “I’ve established my recipe” — to finally expand. “I think people will be surprised to see how feminine it is,” he said. “I do hope they come with a fresh eye.”