NEW YORK — Designer Karen Darby Scott knows exactly what she wants and what she doesn’t want from a garment.
“There is so much conceptual design that is beautiful, but when a woman puts it on, it looks like garbage,” the president, chief designer and founder of Darby Scott Ltd. said in her airy West 39th Street showroom here. “I want my designs to flatter the figure…with technique, workmanship, fine hand-sewn finishes, linings and fit.”
To that end, Darby Scott is launching a complete collection of separates, suits, dresses and coats for spring.
However, Darby Scott is no newcomer to the apparel arena. Before starting her own line, Darby was vice president of women’s merchandising and design for the North American division of Aquascutum of London. Prior to that, she also had worked in merchandising for Lagerfeld USA and Perry Ellis.
When she founded Darby Scott in 1994, she set out to make eveningwear and cocktail dresses in luxury fabrics, such as four-ply silk and heavy georgette. By 1998, her line was distributed to Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, with annual sales reaching about $2 million. But when Matthew Scott, her husband and business partner, died in the plane crash of Swissair Flight 111 in 1998, she took a break, and returned in fall 2000 as a maker of exotic skin handbags, notable for their handles made from semiprecious stones and minerals.
Though Darby Scott continued to make custom dresses for private clients and held trunk shows, her dress business took a backseat to the handbags division, which is a $2 million business today.
Now, she is ready to give ready-to-wear another spin. Much like her handbags that have become a main-floor attraction at the likes of Bergdorf’s and Neiman Marcus, the rtw has an elegant and luxurious feel with much attention placed on construction details and high-quality materials.
“It’s sweet without being saccharine,” Scott said of the 85 looks in the collection. “[They target] a young customer looking for a silk top to pair with jeans and the Madison Avenue customer going for lunch.”
Highlights of the collection include a silk chiffon, bias-cut, floral-print dress with a cascade of fabric running down the side; a cotton and linen chemise with a swirly pattern inspired by a garden gate; iridescent mohair pants; a Grecian-inspired dress made of chiffon panels; a cotton jacquard weave chemise embroidered with floral medallions, and an all-over beaded floral top and skirt.To address women’s diverse figures and give the customers leaner and taller appearances, Scott raised the height of the pocket placement so that they don’t sit on and accentuate the hips — a problematic zone for many women, she noted. Also, jackets have working cuff buttons.
“I always ask, ‘What’s the practicality of it?’” Scott said. “I like to put in working button holes so that a woman doesn’t feel the jacket confines her. If she wants to pull back or fold it over when she goes out for a casual lunch, she can.”
Wholesale prices range from $350 for a silk chiffon top to $1,800 for an evening gown. Scott projects wholesale sales of about $500,000 in the line’s first season and is targeting upscale specialty stores, as well as those retailers that also carry the bags.
“This kind of woman is a traveler,” Scott said of her ideal customer. “She appreciates fine quality and tailoring, whether it is in the workmanship of a bag or the stitching on a dress.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast