Chris Gelinas is getting ready to reveal his first collection for Becken, the women’s fashion and lifestyle brand, on Feb. 8, the eve of New York Fashion Week.
Gelinas was tapped as Becken’s creative director in the fall where he spearheads the design of all its seasonal collections. He continues to create his own designer collection, CG, which he launched three years ago.
Founded by entrepreneur Angela Beck, Becken’s roots come from Kentucky where Beck resides with her husband and five children on their thoroughbred farm, Gainesway, in Lexington. Becken combines the worlds of thoroughbred horses and the lifestyle that surrounds it. The company launched for the fall 2016 selling season, and has also sold resort 2017 and spring 2017 collections.
“Since our first meetings, Chris has really understood the foundation and authentic vision of the brand,” said Beck, chief executive officer and founder of Becken. “Through his design expertise, Chris has already defined our key style and refined it with his feminine interpretation, which will be shown with his first fall-winter 2017 collection.” The collection is manufactured in New York.
Beck described Becken as a “lifestyle, easy-to-wear brand.” She said that after having designers create the first three seasons, “I really needed to push re-set.” She sought someone who had authority, relationships within the industry and was relevant, she said.
“I’ve given him parameters, and he’s completely in charge,” said Beck, who has owned a Kentucky-based home and tabletop company Pomegranate Inc. for the past 25 years. “I’m very familiar with production and sales, and he [Gelinas] brings the finesse and design, and it gets me out of Lexington,” she added.
Gelinas explained that Beck approached him shortly after his spring show in September, they met, and she explained the story of Gainseway and the farm. “I just fell in love with this idea of that equestrian lifestyle and the real history and authenticity. As a designer, we’re always searching for a story to tell. Every brand wants to have a story and now more than ever, authenticity is really the key,” said Gelinas.
“The wheels started spinning as soon as I heard about it. As soon as I visited the farm in Kentucky and got to see what it’s about, it’s such an aesthetically rich lifestyle. I wanted to create a very focused foundation and focused language, and draw on that,” he said.
He said the Becken woman is searching for polish, with an easiness that goes along with it. “You can take elements of the ideas of luxury and the way things are finished and fit and approach it with a true sense of ease. It’s about ergonomics and movement.” He described the sensibility as very similar to his CG collection, which he will show during NYFW on Feb. 11. “It’s really about what my woman needs in her everyday life,” said Gelinas.
Asked how he balances both of his collections, he said, “It’s been really fun. This is the first season. We wanted to focus so much on fit and fabrication with Becken. It’s been an incredible amount of work but it’s truly a labor of love. Opportunities like this, you have to feel it instinctually. Angela’s story and the story of Gainesway was so real. A lot of it has come quite naturally,” said Gelinas.
As for whether this was a long-term gig, Gelinas replied, “I hope so. For me, the possibilities are so endless. There’s so much to really dig into. I know so many women who want clothes like this.”
The collection uses cotton twills and quilted fabrics. “This collection is really nuanced. It has nothing to do with performance, it’s infusing that lifestyle into something everyday. It’s not an equestrian collection, it’s playing off that world. It’s meant to be everyday,” he said.
Wholesale prices range from $260 to $520 for jackets/coats; $98 to $202 for tops/blouses; $150-$302 for dresses; $130 to $215 for pants, and $142 to $280 for sweaters. Becken is sold in stores such as Ron Herman, Los Angeles; Lawrence Covell, Denver, Colo.; Jinny, Walnut Creek, Calif.; Julian Gold, Austin and San Antonio, Tex.
The fall collection will be shown Feb. 8 at Fort Gansevoort at 5 Ninth Avenue in New York. On Feb. 10, the company plans to begin market appointments in New York at 66 Jane Street. It will have a retail pop-up shop there, starting in March.
Born in Canada, Gelinas graduated with a design degree from Parsons School of Design. His experience includes design roles at Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, and Balenciaga. He was a finalist in the first LVMH Young Fashion Designers prize and his first CG collection won the MADE for Peroni Young Designer Award in 2013.