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SOUTH GATE, Calif. — While collaborations of all stripes have proliferated across the fashion industry over the past five years, AG Adriano Goldschmied has been on the sidelines as other designers and brands dominated the partnership sweepstakes — until now.
This story first appeared in the August 8, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The premium denim label is kicking off a series of high-profile collaborations to succeed its last joint effort in 1997, when it designed men’s jeans for the hit HBO comedy “Entourage.” This month, AG began shipping garment-dyed stretch sateen pants and denim jeans for men’s golf label Travis Mathew. In January, it plans to inaugurate its AG Stylist Series with celebrity stylist Cher Coulter. A month later, AG will release a flurry of floral-printed jeans, shorts, work shirts, dresses, rompers and fringed scarves as the first denim collaborator for Liberty Art Fabrics.
“We wanted to get a fresh perspective,” said Sam Ku, AG’s creative director, surrounded by samples from Coulter’s 14-piece collection and the 15-item Liberty lineup in the middle of AG’s headquarters here. “We wanted to partner with people who bring a unique perspective to denim.”
Coulter is no stranger to AG. Not only did she style a couple of look books and this past spring’s ad campaign for the brand, but she often outfitted her clients — including Kate Bosworth, Elizabeth Olsen and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley — in the jeans. She’s also versed in the craft of making clothes, having studied fashion design at London’s Central Saint Martins and cofounded a British men’s wear brand called AKA. Two years ago, she began producing affordable jewelry with Bosworth for the subscription-based line JewelMint. That Coulter had never designed jeans before didn’t deter AG.
“She had a very casual and denim-friendly aesthetic,” Ku said. “I knew she had a smart take on what looks good.”
For a denim novice, Coulter had a million ideas. After AG initiated conversations with her last October about designing denim, the Brit stayed in Los Angeles over the Christmas holiday to work on the line. Averaging a visit to AG’s 450,000-square-foot factory every two weeks, she inspected each new design before AG cut the jeans.
“That’s what I love about denim — it’s a fun canvas,” said Coulter, who joins Emily Current, Merritt Elliott and Taylor Jacobson in the ranks of stylists-turned-jean genies. “The actual manipulation of the fabric is endless, whether it’s a foil print or embroidery or painted or latticed or laser-cut.”
Coulter’s designs will be carried in key department stores and specialty shops in the U.S. and overseas, as well as in AG’s 10 freestanding stores and on its Web site. Retailing for $200 to $300, the collection is divided into four capsule groups, each evoking one of her famous clients.
For instance, the Eclectic grouping, inspired by Bosworth, channels an artistic Bohemian with high-rise floral jacquard cutoff shorts and a shredded denim jacket enhanced with an embroidery of a giant hummingbird on the back. Nicole Richie, daughter of singer Lionel Richie and wife of Good Charlotte front man Joel Madden, lent credence to the Rocker offerings, which include a white denim vest with frayed sleeves and black foil treatment on faded black jeans and shorts. For women who like French labels such as Maje, Sandro and A.P.C., there’s the Classic selection personified by rising star Olsen; key looks are a boxy denim jacket printed with tiny butterflies and cuffed shorts that display the same pattern on the front panels and back yoke. Then you have the girl like Huntington-Whiteley, who is proud of her body, donning Sex Bomb styles including a studded miniskirt and skinny cropped jeans that expose the side of the leg through lattice cutouts bordered by white embroidery.
“I want this to be the beginning [of more design projects],” Coulter said. “I’d love to do a full range.”
For the AG + Liberty Art Fabrics collaboration, Ku and his team used three patterns of tiny, medium-size and big flowers printed on Italian textiles in varying shades of blue. Because the Liberty fabrics cost three times more than conventional materials, retail prices for the collection will sit on the higher end. Jeans and shorts will retail for between $200 and $220 and the waist-tied shirtdress will run up to $275.
While the project with Liberty Art Fabrics is intended to last only one season, the AG Stylist Series will continue after Coulter with other creative minds in fashion and the arts.
“We weren’t settling on celebrity stylists only,” Ku said. “We also want artists who act as stylists on the collaboration.”