THE SCHOOL OF MIGUEL
Byline: Eric Wilson
NEW YORK — It’s only been a year since Miguel Adrover rose from the ashes, as they say, and now two of his disciples are embarking on hopeful rags-to-riches stories of their own.
Pierre Carrilero, who has designed knitwear for Adrover’s recent shows under the label Pierrot, and Douglas Hobbs, who was Adrover’s partner in the former East Village store Horn, are each staging their first fashion shows this week, and bringing with them similarly suspenseful and charismatic tales of trying to make it big as a fashion outsider.
Carrilero, a 42-year-old French immigrant, is working out of a messy ground-floor East Village flat with an even more eccentric decor than his friend Adrover’s old place around the corner, which featured a stuffed deer head in the bedroom. There’s a miniature statue of David, Playboy bunny wall decorations and a giant nude poster of Burt Reynolds blown up from the famous 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan.
Not wacky enough? He answered the door in an air-brushed Reba McEntire concert T-shirt and orange track shorts so short and tight they could have been mistaken for underwear, worn with matching orange socks and hiking boots. He then proceeded through an interview the way Sharon Stone did in “Basic Instinct.”
This is the kind of stuff that makes for great copy in the way that Adrover drummed up interest from backers when he was down to his last dime. But the early buzz about the Pierrot knitwear has been so great that the designer has already struck a deal — having signed a licensing and distribution contract with Onward Kashiyama USA that commences with his fall collection, which will be shown on Wednesday at 9 p.m. at the Ukranian National Home in the East Village.
Hobbs, on the other hand, is presenting his fall collection — Dugg by Douglas Hobbs — on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Chaos, barely scraping by on his own for now and funding the collection with his personal savings and money from his family.
While comparisons to Adrover will be inevitable, each designer is striking out with his own viewpoint on fashion.
Pierrot’s knitwear will include some 45 looks, made up of camouflage pants, hunting or autumnal motif sweaters and knit cheerleader skirts, which Carrilero described as being “all about my fascination with the great outdoors.”
Part of that vision comes from his experiences vacationing in Michigan, the home state of his romantic partner, stylist Eric Daman, who works for Patricia Fields on “Sex and the City” and who acts as a creative consultant to Adrover and Pierrot. In Michigan, Carrilero has seen “a beautiful image of America, where you see a big fat lady wearing an oversized sweater, coming out of Kmart with a bunch of kids.”
The other part is taken from his life as an immigrant in New York, where he has worked as a nanny and a model — he was featured in a controversial Visionaire fashion shoot by Terry Richardson that depicted sex between two men — before returning to his work as a designer, which he had started in Paris.
“What happened to Miguel is happening to me, in another way,” Carrilero said. “I am excited because they are giving me total creative control, and allowing me to use the infrastructure of their factories.”
Hobbs and Adrover collaborated on the Dugg line when they met in the early Nineties before opening the Horn store in 1995. Since the store closed last year, Hobbs has taken over the label and is turning it into a designer sportswear collection for fall with a focus on long, flowing pants made in lightweight wool and soft molded leather separates. But there are also elements that critics are bound to compare to the reconstructive style of Adrover, such as a vest made of men’s ties, blouses sewn with mattress ticking details or a striped skirt that has been burned along the hem.
“All you can expect to see is Dugg,” said Hobbs. “It is inevitable that people will make comparisons, but there are none. Every designer has his own way of making interpretations, and what you’re going to see is pure Dugg.”
Hobbs, who is 35, is a native of North Carolina and was raised in New Jersey. He studied architecture at Parsons and pattern making at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Hobbs met Adrover through a friend from Spain and worked with him until Horn closed, then took a brief hiatus before relaunching the Dugg collection, which is carried by Seven at 180 Orchard Street, which also sells some of Pierrot’s designs.
“There is a parallel in our drives and our focus, but our design concepts are a bit different,” Hobbs said.
His architectural background has played a big part in his designs, as he compares patterns to blueprints, and visualizes his collection in three dimensions and in relation to the environment. His designs have been evolving with the input of friends, he said, to a degree that he felt confident in staging his first show.
“Sometimes you have to let go a bit and not hold on so tight,” Hobbs said. “You get the inspiration and the direction and then you have to pull back a bit and let it evolve on its own.”
He also hopes the show will draw the attention of financial backers that can help expand the Dugg collection. Coming from a middle-class background, he has been inspired to pour his energy and resources into the collection, while sacrificing needs in his personal life.
“I’ve been broke before, but broke for different reasons,” he said. “Being broke for making a bad decision is different from being broke because of having a clear perspective of where I wanted to go.”