As it turns out, Lisa Perry’s decision to launch an eveningwear collection with Schumacher, the 125-year-old fabric and wall covering company, was quite some time in the making.
The Chicago native first caught wind of the brand while spending high school summers working at Dana Mills, her family’s home textiles business. She later majored in textile technology at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she learned the fine print about color theory, dyeing, how fabrics are put together and learned to wield a pick glass to examine the warp and weft of fabrics among other things. After deciding to stay in New York after graduation, Perry shelved her undergrad plan to start a career in her family’s business, but her interest in fabrics never waned. “This was just so right up my alley,” Perry said, during a recent interview.
Her alliance with Schumacher had another element of serendipity. The designer floated the idea by the brand’s creative director Dara Caponigro, after reading in a magazine that she had joined the company. Their paths had first crossed years before when Caponigro, a cofounder and former style director of Domino magazine, shot Perry’s house in the Hamptons for that magazine. A second feature appeared in Veranda magazine, when Caponigro was on staff there. “I have always loved Lisa’s style,” Caponigro said. “Each year she continually outdoes herself.”
The prospect of delving into a new category with “such a big name in the [home interiors] business” appealed to Perry, who started her own label in 2007. The 13-piece collection will feature such signature shapes as A-line evening gowns and tunics with retail prices ranging from $895 to $3,000. In time for the Oscars and the rest of the red-carpeted awards season, Barneys New York will trump up the collection to much ado in mid-February in its Beverly Hills store. It will include some of Schumacher’s most sought-after fabrics as a Serengeti circle pocket tunic, the Zebra Palm short sleeve gown and Les Gazelles Au Bois racer-back gown.
Barneys chief operating officer and senior executive vice president Daniella Vitale said, “Lisa is just as well known for taste and talent in her interiors as she is for her ready-to-wear designs. Her celebrated homes are known for their exquisite yet unexpected decorating style. The collaboration with Schumacher mirrors that approach. When we first heard of her idea we did not know what to expect, but the fabrics are unique, luxurious and lend themselves to her linear designs. The dresses are perfect for award season, where we could use a little more of the unexpected.”
As of Feb. 23, the Lisa Perry + Schumacher label will also be sold in Perry’s Madison Avenue store and via her Web site.
Having teamed up with artists such as Jeff Koons for exclusive items, Perry is adept at research. While it would have required weeks to go through Schumacher’s entire archives, the fact that some fabrics would have been too heavy for women to wear simplified that side of the project. “It was so cool to go to the showroom and see all the fabrics,” she said.
Molly Sims, one of Perry’s fans, scored a yellow neon Lisa Perry + Schumacher gown to wear to a few Golden Globes after parties.
Over the years, Schumacher has had its share of exclusive partnerships starting with Paul Poiret in the Twenties. Cecil Beaton, Dorothy Draper, Frank Lloyd Wright and Vera Neumann. In addition, Elsa Schiaparelli once teamed with the Waverly division at Schumacher. Having already lined up the interior designer Miles Redd for a collaboration in September, Caponigro is in the midst of revamping Schumacher by giving a gimlet eye to its collection, marketing, showroom and “every other specific thing.” Fashion stands to potentially have a more influential role. “The connections between fashion and home interiors are getting closer and closer,” she said.