Byline: Janet Ozzard
I don’t miss Seventh Avenue,” says Patrick Robinson.
And why should he? His last job, the high-profile designer post at Anne Klein, ended abruptly a year ago when the company closed its top line. Robinson admits that it took him about eight months to recover. But now he’s back at work — this time on his own collection, working out of his large, light-filled downtown loft. Instead of rolling racks, Robinson sees the groovy NYU students and downtown hipsters who, he says, inspire his signature line of designer-price “great items.”
That’s not to say Robinson has turned out a trend bonanza. His roots are deeply seated in the real side of fashion, and that’s the direction he’s taking. He focuses on luxe fabrics such as alpaca, napa leather and cashmeres and simple shapes that are low-key, easy to wear — and anything but edgy. He prefers dressing in pieces rather than suits, and puts a strong emphasis on knits.
“Women don’t want to get too dressed up,” Robinson says. “I want to make clothes in which a woman can be completely relaxed, but with authority — not like the Eighties in a power suit.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work for Giorgio Armani — one of the greatest geniuses in fashion, and one of the designers that I think appreciates women most in the world,” Robinson says when asked what it’s like to have his own label. “Then I went to Anne Klein, where I tried to find out what that customer wanted.
“This is the first time I’m not trying to make myself fit into a house. It’s the most natural and, at the same time, the hardest thing in the world to do. I got great offers after I left Anne Klein, but it would be hard to want to make yourself fit into another house after you’d been through what I’ve been through.”
The new collection is being produced by Coba, an Italian manufacturer that reportedly also has some stake in the business. Robinson is launching it with a series of one-on-one meetings in lieu of a show. He hopes to form some exclusive partnerships with stores rather than spread his distribution too widely.
“I also have a setup in Milan,” he says. “The first season, I’m planning on selling only in America, but next season I’ll show there as well. And I’d like to get into men’s wear in about a year.”
Robinson says he knows the pressure is on. “After my last little episode, of course I feel pressure,” he says. “But this is my dream, and I think I’ve found my vision.”