DALLAS — Artist and designer Greg Lauren has been autographing each item of clothing sewn in his Los Angeles atelier, but that may not be possible much longer.
“Right now my hands are pretty tired,” Lauren admitted during a spring trunk show at Forty Five Ten here. “I don’t know that I can hand-sign thousands of pieces and still deliver them on time.”
His namesake clothing for men and women has found shelf space in 40 retailers known for forward fashion, including Barneys New York, L’Eclaireur, Dover Street Market and Isetan. Earlier this month, Lauren made the next logical move — his first runway show during New York Fashion Week.
“After three years I’ve been very, very patient and very intentionally letting people discover the collection,” he explained. “I wanted to do a bold step.”
Lauren has downplayed the family name — not easy when your uncle Ralph built one of the world’s top fashion brands and your dad, Jerry, is its longtime director of men’s wear. There may be a “Bio” tab on GregLauren.com, but there is nothing on the page but a sketch.
Nonetheless, the artfully disheveled look of his designer label has gained traction with urban sophisticates from Dallas to Tokyo. Among those who came upon the brand circuitously was Brad Pitt, who began commissioning custom pieces after stylist Karl Templer dressed him in a Greg Lauren jacket for the cover of Interview.
As distribution has grown, Lauren has continually added categories since his first line for spring 2011, which offered only jackets. He’s now selling a complete collection of tops, pants, dresses, toppers and a smattering of coordinating accessories.
“A main theme in my work both as an artist and a designer is looking at what I call the pain beneath the beauty,” he explained. “I am trying to create a world where pain and the struggles that people go through coexist with the beauty, as opposed to beauty trying to sort of hide our journey. For a long time there was this idea that beautiful things are meant to brush our pain and life experiences under the carpet or behind the coat, so to speak. I’d rather expose it and let it coexist. It’s real; it’s around us. That doesn’t mean it has to be somber.”
It’s a look that captured the attention of the producers of “Insurgent,” who hired him to costume Shailene Woodley in the “Divergent” sequel scheduled to premiere in March.
“These sort of youth-oriented, dystopian story lines seem to work well with my stuff — not so much to capture the dystopian side but the people within who suddenly are finding their voice,” Lauren reflected. “It’s a kind of rugged artistic individuality.”
While he may not want to flaunt his name, the designer is happy to speak of the family legacy and thinking that has influenced him from birth.
“I grew up understanding the heritage of a suit worn by Cary Grant or from Savile Row,” he noted. “I was also taught the beauty of an authentic destroyed denim work jacket. I understood this idea you could wear that without having done the work but could feel like you did it. That’s what I’m curious about….I think we are all trying to figure out not only who we are but who we want to be, and who we are allowed to be.”