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What inspires a New York designer? It might be anything from a vivid yellow Dixon Ticonderoga pencil to Johann Strauss’ transcendent waltzes to Greta Garbo at the opera.
Compiled by Venessa Lau

“Context — the role contextualization plays in perception.” — Bryan Bradley of Tuleh

“Contemporary and young, infused with a classic eclecticism.” — Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa

“Fall is sleek, glamorous and pure luxury with a racy edge.” — Ralph Lauren

 “The rich textures, the natural elegance and the luminous color palette of Flemish art.” — Vera Wang

“Fall: magical, fantasy, winter wonderland, layering petticoats of lace, tulle and eyelet with deep and rich velvets and heavy plaids. It’s inspired by little girls dressed up in their prettiest ruffled dresses. The silhouette is small shoulders, small waists and very full skirts.” — Rebecca Taylor

“Last year, on my travels from Versailles to Dubai (with Houston in between), my creative eye was overwhelmed but happily recharged.”
— Bill Blass’ Michael Vollbracht

“I wanted the girls in my show to look like they were going to the opening of a Louise Nevelson exhibition.” — Anna Sui

“The fall collection at the House of Toi draws inspiration from Zang’s fascination with silver-screen goddesses. This collection pays tribute to great Hollywood beauties of the past and present, from Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn and Grace Kelly to Sharon Stone, Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchette.” — Zang Toi

“The look for fall is relaxed elegance; this season’s woman is today’s regal gypsy. She revels in playful decadence. Fluidity, ease and confidence are focal points of this casual luxury; her flirtatious sexiness persists.” — Zac Posen

“This collection is both aged and new.  It is softly tailored, but powerfully feminine and it has evolved, yet is still familiar.”  — Daryl K’s Daryl Kerrigan

This story first appeared in the February 5, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Marcel Vertes, the Parisian illustrator popular in the Twenties and Thirties, was someone I discovered recently whom I am very intrigued with. His drawings observed both the social life and fashion of the Parisian beau monde. His lightness combined with great humor and wit illuminated the dress and vanities of that period. It is an approach that I can relate to.” — Yigal Azrouël

“This collection was inspired by the strengths and passions of the romantic heroines of Russian literature.”   — Diane von Furstenberg

“I have combined bohemian chic and sophisticated hipster to create an eclectic mix of drama and luxury.”   — Dana Buchman

“I was inspired by a novel written by Laurent Gaude: ‘Death of an Ancient King.’ The novel actually begins on the day preceding the king’s daughter’s marriage. She’s a woman who remembers the princesses of the Ottoman Empire, the maharajahs of Rajasthan, the czars of Russia and the royals of France.” — Luca Luca’s Luca Orlandi

“Our fall collection is drawn from a retrospective on the Bloomsbury movement and the timeless quintessence of an art de vivre.”  — BCBG’s Max Azria

 “The effortless chic of fashion muses, Charlotte Rampling and Romy Schneider.” — J. Mendel’s Gilles Mendel

“The fall collection was inspired by luxury automobiles from the Thirties, with detailing that takes an aesthetic and
technological identity of its own.” — Shelley Steffee

“A night at the opera with Greta Garbo.” — Vivienne Tam

“Sixties’ chic and the jewels of the Maharaja.” — Monique Lhuillier

My collection for fall is a study in volume, with silhouettes originally inspired by illustrations from Russian fairytales. There is a focus on luxury that evokes the opulence of Slavic Europe.” — Cynthia Steffe

“Anything uptight feels wrong this season. The Luella girl is boyish for day in poet society — ruffled shirts reminiscent of a tomboyish young Marianne Faithfull, tailored cropped trousers and Fifties jackets — a bit teddy boy, a bit Buddy Holly, with the soundtrack of the Raveonettes playing in the background. For the Luella party girl, there are Fifties rock ’n’ roll dresses in oversize graffiti rose prints and polkadots.” — Luella Bartley

“The Baby Phat fall collection is inspired by the femininity, sexiness, elegance and style of the femme fatale. We drew from retro James Bond Girls and movies such as ‘The Thomas Crown Affair,’ harvesting the sensuality of a femme fatale and the edgy glamour of Baby Phat.”  — Baby Phat’s Kimora Lee Simmons

“My collections this season is inspired by the bohemian world traveler. She travels from Bombay to the Mediterranean seaside. She loves the tiny shops along the winding brick roads in Greece. St. Tropez is her playground. This woman’s wardrobe is a unique multicultural jewel that mirrors her own personal style.”   — Reem Acra

“Fall is inspired by the Gilded Age of waltzes by Johann Strauss and paintings by John Singer Sargent.” — Carmen Marc Valvo

“It’s a world of FASHION sewing, cutting, shears
glitter and sequins blood, sweat and tears New York City fantasies lots of casting calls panic, magic, music
a world of living dolls.”  — Heatherette

“Lads and ladies…sweet and sassy… vintage Victoriana and vixen…and rompin’ through the Yorkshire Moors!” — Betsey Johnson

“She’s traveled; she’s a woman of means. She’s tempered her refined style with a touch of the bohemian.” — Ellen Tracy

“Looking at the things that I love and hate with a sardonic eye, not to express a jaded point of view, but for creative exploration.” — Benjamin Cho

“Louise, Colette, Jane et les autres….”   — Catherine Malandrino

“What’s intriguing this season are cuts that allow us to suspend fabric within fabric, like a mosaic. My vocabulary and references this season suggest 18th-century chinoiserie, ormolu, Italian Renaissance blueprints and floor plans, Spanish armor, Joseph Beuys and Franz Kline and the quietude of a Khmer statue.” — Chado’s Ralph Rucci

“This season all started with the idea of the night sky and the fact that it used to be our only tool for navigation. I started thinking of compasses, old maps, the North Star, ships and the British Navy. This collection is also inspired by men’s traditional clothing, giving it an almost vintage, nostalgic feel.” — Abaeté’s Laura Poretzky

“The fall collection is inspired by the Persian poet Rumi and the teachings of Sufism. The term ‘butterfly catcher’ made me envision an Englishman following a trail to capture butterflies in a uniform of tweeds and masculine-cut wool and cashmere blend trousers.” — Afshin Feiz

“The furniture in my home is not particularly out of the ordinary, but each chair, table and chest has a few stories in its history. They are patched and dark with layers of oxidation, each engulfing a lifetime.” — Alex Grant

“I was inspired to create this collection by French Rococo. I translated that into 2005 by creating pieces with different lengths full of colorful microruffles and mixed prints, resulting in Tropical Rococo.”  — Alexander Herchcovitch

“An allegorical coming of age, referencing the cult classic ‘Harold and Maude’ without being a Seventies collection.” — Alice Roi

“My collection this season is inspired by Dee Brown’s book, ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’; my travels to Taos, N.M.; the poetry of the Indians and their culture; Millicent Rogers’ life in Taos and her jewelry collection, but, above all, the vast richness that our country has to offer.” — Alvin Valley

“The measure of a woman is not defined solely by her form, gowns or dresses. Strength, compassion and beauty all come from within.” — Anne Bowen

“My collection this season is based on Byzantine architecture. Geometric and modern shapes are fused together to create a futuristic elegance. Color plays a pivotal role — olives, beige, black, flashy red, violet and anthracite.” — Atil Kutoglu

“‘A person walks the street of a city and encounters perhaps a thousand people in the course of a day, people she or he has never met before — “strangers” in the modern sense of that term….’— Baudelaire’s flaneur.” — Boudicca

“‘Tambores do Candeal’ is a show inspired by the popular Brazilian culture born in Candeal Pequeno, originally a district of runaway slaves located on the outskirts of Salvador. The region gained recognition for its use of music, art and the Candomble religion as a way of resisting poverty and social discrimination.” — Carlos Miele

“This season, we introduce ‘the Queen of Spades.’ This collection’s Old-World styling is inspired by the 18th- century Revolutionary period in Europe, with movement mimicking the genius of Mozart’s musical measures. This fall, we introduce a refined and mysterious glamour, infused with elegance and gilded in gold.” — Cat Swanson

“Luxury sportswear, through color, oversized proportion and silhouette, not decoration.” — Chaiken’s Jeff Mahshie

“Inspired by a fashion magpie, the collection is a mix of vintage and modern styles and influences.” — Christopher Deane

“We looked to the mood and atmosphere of Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 film, ‘Don’t Look Now,’ and to the early 20th-century painter Romaine Brooks and her use of grays and neutrals. This was our main source of inspiration for the upcoming season.” — Costello Tagliapietra

“To the max. Dressed to clash.” — Custo Barcelona’s Custo Dalmain

“Luxury camping.” — Cynthia Rowley

“For fall, I was most inspired by pictures of two very different women from the Thirties. I love the strong, androgynous style of Amelia Earhart photographed standing next to her plane, exuding a sense of power through ability and drive, and, in sharp contrast, the long and fluid silhouette of Mona von Bismarck as photographed by Cecil Beaton, exuding her own sense of power through privilege.” — David Rodriguez

“The collection will be one part ‘California dreamin’ on a winter’s day’ and another part renaissance feminine beauty.” — Derek Lam

“The movement and stillness of the city — steely grids and illuminated bridges.” — Doo.Ri

“…Audrey Hepburn in ‘Roman Holiday,’ Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, Greta Garbo, Barbara Hutton and Anastasia.” — Douglas Hannant

“In this image, I have found the entrance into a lost paradise — a place where a woman is enveloped in beauty and romance. The collection, much like this image, draws you in to experience a range of emotions and a clear sense of nostalgia.” — Esteban Cortazar

“I am exploring three different women; Corinne (a scientist), Julia (a farm girl) and Sylvia (a socialite).” — Gary Graham

“I am inspired by women who want to express their individuality with sensual, feminine clothing. I have created a collection of signature items that can be worn with blue jeans or to a black-tie event.” — Gustavo Arango

“Most of my designs came from a weekend spent at our cabin in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. Between the surreal views of the forest surrounding the pond and the view of the river running by, there was no way to escape the creativity.” — Holly Kristen

“The collection is T. Rex-meets-Gertrude Stein if they lived together in Madagascar.” — Imitation of Christ’s Tara Subkoff

“My collection comes from my love and research of Piero Tosi’s costume designs from Fellini and Visconti films.” — Jeffrey Chow

“Luck and superstition” — Jennifer Nicholson

“Iron Butterfly. South Central meets Madame Butterfly.” — Jeremy Scott

“Renowned for her use of luxurious fabrics, original hand-beading and body-conscious silhouettes, Mastroianni’s flirtatious fall 2005 collection has a modern edge inspired by the details of the French Art Deco of the Thirties.” — Joanna Mastroianni

“The mood of my first collection is effortless glamour — evocative of the ease and movement of the European jet set of the Fifties. Think St. Moritz, Courchevel…where a woman is as comfortable and as confident lounging in a Parisian cafe as she is at a night at the opera.” — Kai Milla

“‘Ibeowuld bode in the burg of the Scyldings, leader beloved and long he ruled in fame with all folki.’ Keanan Duffty’s fall collection is inspired by the medieval epic poem ‘Beowolf,’ as well as the tales of King Arthur and his court. The collection is titled, ‘A Hard Day’s Knight.’” — Keanan Duffty

“For the Label fall collection, Laura was inspired by two artists, Naum Gabo and Max Neufeld, in both theory and application. Gabo’s work dealt with how physics interplays as the vital component of art, while Neufeld comments on the familiarity of an abstracted foreign landscape upon the unconscious.” — Label

“Yves Saint Laurent, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, Helmut Lang.” — Levi Okunov

“Live-up creation…inspire every day.” — Jordan Betten of Lost Art

“Thirties Hollywood enthralls me.” — Jane McMillan of Mac Millan

“Having dressed so many women, I’ve been astounded by the many variations of their skin tones. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to use that as the inspiration for my collection. Another idea is Jazzy Living, nightclubs in the Thirties in Berlin or Paris, decadence and absolute luxury and the cultural mix only possible in Europe.” — Marc Bouwer

“The fall collection is all about color and silhouette. Rich reds with oranges and deep teals are set off by lavender and turquoise. We were inspired by the paintings of Mark Rothko from the Forties and early Fifties. The feminine, Twenties-inspired silhouettes are brought to life with colorblocking and contrast topstitching.”   — Marie Marie’s Jada Simons

“The collection is an exploration of a modern classicism achieved by a delicate balance of richness and lightness and beautifully subtle, but assured design details.” — Mary Ping

“This collection is about capturing a richness and luxurious feel in a modern way. For tailoring, I’ve been inspired by very masculine clothing — in particular, military uniforms and details reworked in supersoft cashmeres and silk weaves. These elements have been combined with soft, feminine silhouettes and delicate floral prints to create a hard-and-soft look.” — Matthew Williamson

“Every season is an opportunity to reinvent and reinterpret femininity. In a more serious mood this season, I became fascinated with Helmut Newton and Film Noir. This collection articulates austere glamour. I’ve been the fun and flirty bohemian; I’m ready for something new.” — Michelle Smith of Milly by Michelle Smith

“Fall captures our perspective to completely indulge in the moment. As always, our use of luxe fabrics, fine tailoring and attention to detail remain.” — Multi by Bree’s Barbara Harris

“Naeem Khan’s inspiration is a woman who is sophisticated, well-traveled and versatile. She can be bohemian with luxurious embroideries on cashmere tunics, or wear a strict suit for lunch. She is attentive to details, refinement, exclusive fabrics.” — Naeem Khan

“I was inspired by the fashion of empresses and gypsies — the style of wanderlust. The collection is an interpretation of whimsical theater with the mystique of times gone by.” — Nanette Lepore

“The Ticonderoga Collection: This season I was inspired by the transition I made as a girl from the world of private-school uniforms to the freedom of dress in a public-school environment. I named the collection after the iconic yellow Dixon Ticonderoga pencil found in American classrooms; simply holding the beveled pencil takes me back to this time of budding self-expression.”  — Nicole Romano

“For fall, my inspiration has been the elegant, sophisticated jet-set woman who needs a wardrobe that fulfills many purposes — to be feminine, seductive and red-carpet ready, but also tailored enough to take care of business.” — Pamella Roland

“The collection is inspired by the work of JG Ballard and David Cronenberg’s ‘Crash,’ the subversiveness and strength that come from the mind and soul. The modification of the body through modern technology. It’s about strong women. Literally period.” — Patrik Rzepski

“Unexpected femininity. Uncontrived ease and exquisite confidence.” — Peter Som

“Fall is about being daring — with strong, graphic classics.” — Phi’s Andreas Melbostad

“This season is a definitive move away from the overtly ladylike clothes we’ve seen for a few seasons now. There’s much more tailoring, but in a more relaxed way. Inspiration is taken from Joseph Beuys and Calder in terms of color and textures.” — Proenza Schouler

“‘Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.’ — Albert Camus.” — Project Alabama’s Natalie Chanin

“I continue to be inspired by cinema, and this season, ‘Quadrophenia,’ ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ and ‘Hotel du Nord’ all play their part. It’s about creating an illusion of the body using articulated clothing — building blocks to mold the body, embrace curves and give elongated, languid limbs.” — Roland Mouret

“The Arts and Crafts Movement in England was made up of a group of rebellious artisans fighting against the industrial revolution with their love of craft. We honor those brilliant Ruffians in our fall collection.” — Ruffian

“The nature of contradiction — a futuristic vision with a nostalgia for the past.” — Sass & Bide

“The collection is a tribute to feminine sophistication enlivened and modernized by Robert Firestone’s futurist expressionism — the perfect marriage of past and future, technology and nature, art and commerce.” —  Tamsen

“Magnification.” — Tess Giberson

“Looking at layering in a more voluminous way.” — Thakoon’s Thakoon Panichgul

“I was inspired by a photograph of Charlotte Rampling on the set of ‘Sequestro di persona’ in 1968.” — Tory Burch of Tory by TRB

“Our fall line, ‘Pompous and Penniless,’ is about old money, 1959 in Paris, a family reunion, cases of wine and a fortune in decline. In an effort to rekindle their family fortune, the Fitzgilbert family is forced to remain pompous and proper in their tired luxury clothes.” — Trovata

“Veronese and The Ramones.” — Venexiana by Kati Stern

“As in life, it’s the peeling off of layers that tells all! VPL explores a journey of unraveling in ‘The State Of Un…Dress.’” — VPL’s Victoria Barlett

“The collection’s elegant style and quiet embellishments are fused with a feeling of darkening nostalgia to create a smoky allure…Searching eyes peering through the fog on a gloomy Sunday in Paris…A longing for a kinder world and a gentler time…Romantic, but in a somber way.”  — Y & Kei

“I was inspired by the colors, proportion and spirit of Luis Barragán’s architecture in Mexico City.” — Yeohlee’s Yeohlee Teng

“This is my sixth collection, and in celebration of the number six, I have entitled it ‘Hex.’ This show has a lot to do with shadows and secrets. I’ve always been intrigued and inspired by Goth. Look for complete head-to-toe looks and prints inspired by an arrangement of Victorian flowers sent to me last year by Melissa Auf der Maur.” — Zaldy

“I went to see the Lee Bontecou exhibition at MOMA Queens last summer, and that show, combined with a renaissance feeling that seems to be in the air right now, are my two principal inspirations for the fall collection.” — Zero Maria Cornejo’s Maria Cornejo