LOS ANGELES — For a couple of laid-back California dudes, actor David Arquette and singer Ben Harper are striving to impose some propriety on women’s wardrobes.
In their new contemporary clothing line, Propr, Arquette and Harper are offering cuffed trousers cut out of cool chambray, vests accented with bow snaps, minidresses screen-printed with clusters of chubby birds and ruched boyshorts for bikini sets. The palette is intended to be timeless in navy, red, white and yellow.
“There’s a classiness and a sort of refinement to the clothing,” Arquette said, noting that the label’s name was derived from an old French word meaning “proper.” The garments have “a quality that’s traditional; a little bit vintage and very functional.”
With retail prices ranging from $90 for a polo shirt to $495 for a pleated trenchcoat, Propr is an alternative to other preppy sportswear brands such as Trovata, Rag & Bone and Boy by Band of Outsiders. Propr’s creative director is David Bedwell, who held the same title at Original Penguin.
While Bedwell steers the company through the intricacies of manufacturing and retailing, the designs reflect his taste as well as the styles of Arquette and Harper. On a sunny afternoon, Harper arrived to review the line in baby blue Nikes and a white T-shirt that barely concealed his arms inked with tattoos. In contrast, Bedwell knotted a mustard-colored scarf around his neck to enhance a vintage blazer, and Arquette paired scuffed brown oxfords with a polkadot print shirt.
Propr is run out of a building designed by Richard Neutra that houses the production company that Arquette runs with his wife, actress Courteney Cox Arquette, in Los Angeles. Cheeky prints by artists Banksy and Shepard Fairey share space with an aged trunk from Louis Vuitton. Propped against a wall, a giant cutout of the label’s logo — owl triplets — further symbolizes the partners’ approach to designing.
“We all share the same vision,” Arquette said.
Starting a fashion label had been conversation fodder among Arquette, Harper and Bedwell for a couple of years, But the trio didn’t embark on the project until January, when Bedwell left Original Penguin. Although Arquette is making his fashion debut, Harper’s first foray as a designer came in the mid-Nineties. He lost $10,000 on a line of Western shirts that he didn’t even name. “What I learned from the process — fabrics, stitching, what you choose for the line — is applicable” to Propr, said Harper, who is married to actress Laura Dern.
The other members of the five-person team at Propr are Christian Arkins, who started his own women’s label called William & Augusta after serving as design director at Original Penguin, and Paul Marlow, who designs a men’s line called Loden Dager after stints at Original Penguin and Marc Jacobs.
With the company’s collective experience in accessible sportswear and the celebrity cachet of Arquette and Harper, retailers such as Kitson and Scoop have bought Propr’s classic pieces and swingy dresses. Declining to disclose sales projections, Bedwell said the goal is to limit distribution to 45 doors in the first season so the company can fulfill production orders. Opting to manufacture in New York and Los Angeles, Propr uses mostly eco-friendly fabrics such as hemp or organic cotton.
“We are passionate about environmental issues,” Harper said. “We want to make [the clothes] in America.”
For the 43 pieces in the women’s inaugural collection, the partners channeled muses including Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy. Harper and Arquette also turned to their wives for inspiration. Arquette noted that a black dress hanging in Cox Arquette’s closet formed the template for a chambray frock accentuated with skinny bows under the scoopneck. “You can also thank Laura Dern for a knee-length short in gingham,” Bedwell said.
Based on the turnout for Propr’s debut runway show Oct. 15 at the Arquettes’ modern manse in Beverly Hills, half of Hollywood could play a role in Propr’s potential success. Among the faces in the crowd were Jennifer Aniston, Cindy Crawford, Heidi Klum, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lance Armstrong, Vincent Gallo, Lukas Haas and Patricia and Rosanna Arquette.
Dern’s mother, Diane Ladd, is already bugging her son-in-law for the navy pleated trenchcoat.
“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