Rising From the Ashes
The end of the Leiber Group didn’t spell the end for its designers. Daryl Kerrigan and Miguel Adrover, two of New York’s brightest talents, have reorganized their respective businesses and have come back swinging with spring collections planned for the runways this week. (Adrover will show Monday at 8 p.m., and Daryl K will show on Wednesday at 6 p.m.)
Having bought back the rights to her name from the Leiber Group, Kerrigan said she’s free from the burden of the day-to-day business side of fashion and can concentrate on her creativity. These days, she spends a lot of time draping, sketching and playing with clothes.
“When you drape, it allows what you’re interested in to come out naturally,” she said. “You don’t really have a plan. You just do it and things happen. I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. I’m not as stressed out as I used to be. Doing two shows a year for two collections for seven to 10 years was hard on the creative process.”
Instead of designing two lines, as she did in the past with K189 and Daryl K, Kerrigan now is centering her main Daryl K line “somewhere in the middle.” Jersey and layering pieces are naturally included, and much of the line looks like “things I’m liking myself at the moment,” she said.
“There are great pants and skirts that you can wear any way,” she said. “When you put them together, you get a great look, or each can be stripped down to be worn on its own.”
Her new collection will be shown in an empty 40,000-square-foot commercial space in Chelsea. With a concrete floor and white risers, the raw, second-floor area is close enough to the street to pick up Kerrigan’s slick, street-smart style. “It’s always about New York for me,” she said.
Early on, she kicked around many ideas to give her show an artistic edge and wound up with something that isn’t just up and down the runway.
“It’s about the clothes in the end. It’s great,” she said. — Rosemary Feitelberg
If the Zoo Fits
Lacoste may generate only 10 percent of its sales in the U.S., but the French sportswear brand has a bigger appetite. It’s for that reason that the little green crocodile will swagger down the runway for the first time in a show on Sunday at Bryant Park, followed by a party that night in the Central Park Zoo.
“America is one of the key markets we plan to grow in the next five years,” said Bernard Lacoste, chairman of La Chemise Lacoste. “Over the last 30 years, we’ve had a big business in America, [then] not such a big business and [then] hardly any business at all. We are in the stage of building it back up.”
The last three years have been busy for the brand. Since the arrival of Paris designer Christophe Lemaire, the brand has beefed up its image by staging runway shows in Paris and introducing younger silhouettes and colors. A sleek concept store has begun to roll out, designed by architect Patrick Rubin and furniture designer Christophe Pillet, with locations in London, Berlin, Düsseldorf and Lyon.
This summer, a 3,400-square-foot store on Fifth Avenue and 49th Street was opened, and a 4,300-square-foot flagship bowed on Paris’ Champs-Elysées. In the U.S., additional units are planned for Chicago and San Francisco in October. Next year, stores are scheduled for Boston and Long Island. Lacoste said that over the next years, all of the firm’s 757 shops around the world would be made over with the new concept.
The United States remains dear to Lacoste. He explained that his father, tennis legend Rene Lacoste, who founded the brand in 1933, got his nickname from the American press after he made a bet with a Davis Cup teammate for an alligator suitcase.
“We’ve a lot to like in America,” Lacoste smiled. “It’s part of the brand.”
For Lacoste, the decision to show in New York also marks increased focus on the women’s business. At present, women’s accounts for about 25 percent of its sales, which reached about $1 billion at wholesale last year. Nevertheless, women’s has been more popular in the U.S., where it makes up 40 percent of total sales.
“We want to underscore the women’s wear,” Lemaire said. “It’s sportif, sexy and casual, and refined with a French touch.” — Robert Murphy
The American Revolution
The quintessential American sportswear houses of Anne Klein and Bill Blass just can’t seem to recapture the prestige that their larger-than-life founders fathered during their heydays. This fashion week, however, the two houses are poised to make a great comeback — or a great flop — as Michael Smaldone at Anne Klein and Michael Vollbracht at Bill Blass introduce their debut collections.
The new visions for these houses will be unveiled in back-to-back shows on Tuesday, no less.
Both companies have undergone major changes since the last fashion week in February. Bill Blass fired designers Lars Nilsson and Hervé Pierre the day after its fall show and replaced them with Vollbracht, who had worked with Blass on a retrospective exhibit in Indiana before Blass’ death last year. Vollbracht is now the third designer to take over since Blass retired in 2000, and this time, expect a more traditional Bill Blass look with classic eveningwear, dress and suit designs.
Meanwhile, Anne Klein’s owner, Kasper A.S.L. Ltd., was purchased during a bankruptcy court auction by Jones Apparel Group for $216 million in August. Smaldone was brought on board last year to design the better-priced AK Anne Klein label, but was promoted to design the main line after Charles Nolan retired this spring to join Howard Dean’s presidential campaign as a volunteer. — Joshua Greene
Tuleh’s Big Return
Since Tuleh’s original partnership of designers Bryan Bradley and Josh Patner dissolved, with Patner leaving the company, the collection hasn’t been shown in a high-profile runway show. Since then, Bradley has developed the collection with his new partner, Amanda Brooks, and on Sunday at 7 p.m., Tuleh will be back on the runway with its high-society clientele in tow.
“Now just seems like the right time,” Bradley said. “More to the point, I’m looking at Tuleh with a more critically modern eye, wanting more contrast, more sex, sharper, clearer, harder, more glamorous, sophisticated and soigné, a lighter touch. The tent highlights and underlines Tuleh in a new and fresh way.”
That’s to say that Bradley’s been thinking about decorative and modern ways to express ideas, and Bryant Park’s neutral setting offers a contrasting backdrop for his customers to understand them all the better. — Eric Wilson
Here Comes the Neighborhood
For those who can’t get enough runway shows this week in New York but want a break from the tents, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District is planning an outdoor show on Orchard Street, featuring a dozen designers from the neighborhood.
The show, set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, is part of the Lower East Side BID’s “Stores-a-GoGo” event, which is intended to promote the area’s growing fashion community. Jennifer Houlihan, marketing director for the BID, said the lineup includes “people that had clothing that represented the spirit of the neighborhood.”
The show will feature looks from MShop, Forward, DDC-Lab, Johnson, Victor De Souza, Some Odd Rubies, Cherish, David Owens, Apollo Braun, Skella, Machine and Doyle & Doyle. Houlihan said last year’s event attracted a crowd of about 1,000 people, a number the BID hopes to meet or beat this year.– Scott Malone