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NEW YORK — Richard Chai, who designed Tse’s runway collections for two years until his departure from the house last August, is launching his first signature collection for spring with a show on Sept. 11.
Chai’s debut for Tse in 2001 was well received by editors, establishing him as one of the emerging talents in New York. The show brought the first public exposure for the designer, who had previously worked behind the scenes at Marc Jacobs for three years and Donna Karan before that. Chai resigned from Tse a year ago following a management change at the company.
After freelancing for the past 12 months, Chai said he decided to open his own collection, a designer sportswear line that will debut at 7th on Sixth’s Olympus Fashion Week with a presentation at Bryant Park. He is financing the new venture himself.
“Tse catapulted me into a different part of my career,” Chai said. “It gave me more recognition personally, and allowed me to show what my concepts were, 100 percent, instead of working under the umbrella of another designer.”
When he left Tse, Chai said he took some time to explore different projects. While he was approached by several companies about positions in Europe, he said he did not want to work within the framework of another established label at this time.
“There is a certain confidence you reach once you have worked for other houses,” Chai said. “You develop a sense of your own work and confidence in what you’ve done and in seeing how things sell. There are all kinds of little things you build your career on. Walking away from that situation, being removed from it for some time and working on projects here and there gave me the freedom to get my thoughts and priorities back in line.”
Chai was replaced at Tse by Annette Ishida, one of the original architects of the label from 1995 to 2000. Several designers had served as guest designers on the company’s runway collections during those years, including Narciso Rodriguez, Victor Alfaro and Hussein Chalayan. Ishida had worked for Prada and briefly at Donna Karan before rejoining Tse.
To house his new company, Chai is moving into a loft space at 52 Walker Street here this week.