NEW YORK —?Miguel Adrover is back on Fifth Avenue.
Although the controversial designer might have slipped from the center of fashion’s radar since his 1999 debut, Adrover is taking steps to rebuild his reputation with retailers, beginning with his first big trunk show in New York in more than three years, tonight at Henri Bendel. The retailer, which began to stock pieces from Adrover’s spring collection two weeks ago, has turned over its Fifth Avenue windows to a display that re-creates the designer’s last runway show, a double-season combo shown in September.
“I’ve got a lot of fondness for Henri Bendel,” Adrover said, taking a break from producing orders for the store in his Chrystie Street studio here.
Since he lost his backing in 2001 under the failed Pegasus Apparel Group, he has managed to survive largely on personal orders from private clients, but Bendel’s gave him an order for about 100 pieces, paying for the fabric costs up front.
“This company is moving in the right direction,” Adrover said. “We’re still hanging in on our own and I don’t mind. It’s a pleasure doing business on your own terms. We’ve had the experience of a big corporation and we’ve had the experience of working in a basement. Now we’re in the middle, which is much better.”
Since he reopened his collection two years ago, Adrover has continued to produce provocative collections that challenge the rules of the fashion establishment, although they have garnered less attention than when his work was a novelty. To a degree, he has isolated himself from the New York fashion scene by spending monthlong stretches in Spain, where he is considered a national celebrity, and in Egypt, a major source of his design inspiration from where he returned only a few weeks ago.
In his most recent journey, Adrover helped inaugurate El Museu d’Art Modern Es Baluard de Palma, a contemporary art space built inside the walls of a Renaissance fortress on the island of Majorca, where the designer was born. He created 35 uniforms for the museum’s staff, who will dress in Adrover’s tailored, three-piece suits for men and skirt suits for women, and is also in discussions with the island’s government about opening a store there or staging an exhibition of his work.
From Majorca, Adrover flew to Egypt in late February, where he participated in a cultural exchange program with the University of Cairo that was sponsored by the Instituto Cervantes, in which students were asked to develop a complete collection in about eight days, finally staging a runway show at the Spanish Embassy. Outside a cemetery there, Adrover said he saw a group of little girls whom he asked to walk on his runway, along with a live donkey.
“It was like that show with the sheep,” Adrover said, recalling his infamous February 2001 show, where a sheep was terrified by the spectacle and ominously fell onto several audience members. The donkey, he said, was a better model.
His fascination with livestock aside, the designer is making an effort to present a more professional front on the business side. He just completed delivery of spring orders with Colette in Paris and two retailers in Japan, plus shoes to Jeffrey New York through his year-old licensee, Lottusse. Bendel’s placed an order for about 100 pieces from Adrover’s collection and about 15 of them had sold within the first two weeks, said Ed Burstell, vice president and general manager.
“When you really look at the collection, there are some incredible, beautiful, salable things you can tailor for your own store,” Burstell said. “I look at him almost as Miguel the Concept. The idea of designing from a lot of different inspirations is really timely. He has original thought that needs to be seen.”