Rebecca Minkoff is determined to get it right when it comes to sportswear.
Although the New York-based designer’s handbag collection remains a consistent bestseller in 300 specialty stores, apparel has been another story. After about four years at retail, Minkoff closed her contemporary line in 2005.
“I was a one-woman show and I couldn’t handle it all myself,” she said. “It became too much for me to do bags and clothes.”
Believing she would eventually get back into apparel, Minkoff said she waited until she had a stronger infrastructure to support a bigger business. Then, her friend, Los Angeles-based celebrity stylist Ilaria Urbinati, stepped in, hoping to collaborate on the design of a line.
When Urbinati was in New York for a visit, the friends sat on the floor of Minkoff’s apartment and put together a collection of tailored double-knit cotton dresses, supersoft leather jackets, brocade trenchcoats with leather piping, high-waisted pencil skirts and low-cut blouses.
Minkoff said they were inspired by Elizabeth Taylor in the Fifties and the darkness of the 1982 film “Blade Runner.” It was also important, Minkoff said, to incorporate strong hardware and details seen in her handbags — such as the gold buttons on a blouse and the leather panels on a silk top. The collection is jacket-heavy, which was also important to Minkoff.
“There are days where I don’t like my outfit, so I just throw on a jacket and feel like I have a better look,” she said.
Urbinati agreed: “I love that the trenchcoat is so beautiful that it can be worn with a dress on a red carpet, which my clients will love.”
In addition to being a stylist, Urbinati owns the Los Angeles-based specialty store Confederacy, which carries Minkoff’s handbag collection as well as designs from Roland Mouret, Proenza Schouler and Etro.
“With Ilaria’s background and my design experience, it was a no-brainer for us to collaborate,” Minkoff said.
Launching for spring, the first collection will be sold exclusively at Confederacy and on rebeccaminkoff.com. That will allow the partners to test the line before opening it up to wholesale, Urbinati said. After becoming available to high-end specialty store buyers with the fall line, the collection will be based in Minkoff’s Manhattan showroom at 33 West 17th Street. The handbags will continue to be based out of the Cynthia O’Connor showroom at 141 West 36th Street.
“I credit Cynthia with a lot of the success we’ve had with the bags,” Minkoff said. “But I really want to keep a close eye on the clothing and I don’t want it to be everywhere. I want it to be special, exclusive and in demand.”
The Rebecca Minkoff contemporary sportswear line is manufactured in New York, which Minkoff said she will always do. It wholesales from $70 for a zip-down racer-back tank to $335 for a trench. She said she expects to reach about $2 million in first- year sales volume at wholesale.
“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