Byline: Brooke Magnaghi
NEW YORK — One might infer that a new, young designer who prefers not to have his picture taken and who likes to be addressed by his last name would be just another nightmare ego in the making.
Quite the contrary, in the case of burgeoning talent Michael Colovos. His debut fall collection is already selling out in major specialty stores such as Intermix and Steve 19, and is making a strong impression at Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Linda Dresner, among others. The 29-year-old Colovos is, in essence, refreshingly shy, humble and down to earth — endearing qualities in an industry of high drama.
The designer — as well as his collection — is somewhat dark and mysterious. His music of choice: Jane’s Addiction, L7, The Verve. His favorite period in fashion history: “the Dark Ages — chain mail, suits of armor. I’m inspired by the contrast between hard and soft and the sentiments of honor and romance that this era provokes.”
Colovos’ fall line, in stores now, includes great leather jackets, skirts and pants paired with delicate knits, sexy dresses and separates. His collection is edgy, clean and simple with functional details that make the clothing more interesting.
“The focus of my collection is on fabrics and detailing,” he said. “I like to make clothing that accentuates the body.”
Linda Dresner says she picked up the line because of its “sense of humor.”
“There is an all-over coolness and sexiness that is evident, yet restrained,” she said. “Colovos creates useful twists on classic silhouettes, like his wool pants with an attached cell phone holder. He combines a twist of humor with function.”
Colovos has flip-flopped across the Atlantic and across the country, beginning with a move to Seattle from Spain when he was five years old. His interest in fashion was undoubtedly sparked by his mother, who owned a woman’s clothing store in Seattle. As a practicality, he went on to business school while pursuing fashion on the side. Next, he attended FIT here, and designed a one-season private collection with Jason Harler, owner of Garuda, a Seattle-based store. Crossing the Atlantic again, he landed at the Polimoda Institute in Florence, Italy, where he left after one semester to work at Guy Laroche in Paris. Finally, landing in Manhattan for good in 1996, he launched the Colovos collection in 1999, and claims a first season volume of approximately $1 million. Wholesale prices range from $38 for a high-quality cotton and Lycra spandex double-layered T-shirt to $258 for a waxed leather jacket.
The collection is made in Italy, Hong Kong and China.
For spring, the collection will feature knits of cotton and copper wire that have a more natural rather than high-tech feel, coated and stretch cottons, leather-inspired silk and lots of peekaboo details. Keeping the mystique going, he has some cryptic details cooking, like messages written in braille as designs on the clothes.