Q&A – The Row Fall 2015
November 24, 2015
What were the starting points for the Fall 2015 collection?
AO: It started from these little sculptures, which showed a lot of wrapping and draping. We then started thinking about why The Row originated – and it really did all begin with soft suiting and wearable suiting. We looked at New York as a city and tried to tie our collection back to that. All along, we knew we were going to show it at Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building.
How did you find the Seagram building?
MK: We had been looking at that building for quite some time. It’s one of the most famous real estate buildings in New York. We didn’t know how, we didn’t know when, we didn’t know why and we didn’t know how, but we knew at some point, we wanted to use the building to showcase our collection. We wanted the full experience – from the lobby to the open space we used for the show.
What was so special about that location?
MK: There was something hard about the space, but also something so New York. We actually knew that we were going to show our collection here, even before the collection was made. So, when Ashley and I were designing, we always had this in the back of our minds.
In terms of the clothing, where did this whole idea of nonchalant wrapping come from?
AO: We started working with this concept for Spring and I guess we started doing it with softer fabrics – so it was more about draping than wrapping; it was just using it in a different way. When you think about outerwear and women and cold and layering, you think of wrapping yourself. Without it feeling too hard or too overly designed, it’s about the way a fabric drapes around your body which is something we always go back to.
How did Andrée Putman and Mies van der Rohe influence the designs?
MK: When I look at Andrée Putman and the research I’ve done, it’s very black and white. There are lots of clean lines, it’s minimal and it’s so chic. And her as a human being, she always looked impeccable – stark suits, pant suits, lots of black and white but in a very approachable way. There is something to be said about that and then when you think of the lobby of the Seagram Building and the materials of Mies van der Rohe and the form and function of the way that building was designed – it all comes together.
Were there any other images of buildings that you looked at that influenced the ideation process?
MK: We looked at images of a lot of buildings as well as interiors when we were designing the collection. We started looking at interiors and the way colors were put together – whether it was a lighter blue with a darker blue with an ivory or blue with a black. It was about seeing that transition.
What is your color palette this season?
AO: The color palette this season is very Row – it’s grey, it’s light, it’s dark. All of these neutrals are colors comprise the color palette for the collection.
What excites you most about this collection?
MK: This season, every girl who walked down the runway looked like she owned that piece. I think the experience was magical. It might not translate in the photos we took, but that was done for a reason. We shot it at 7 AM; the sun was reflecting off the other buildings, we drew the blinds and it gave a different feeling. At the end of the day, it’s still an office building. Without seeing the Seagram building, we wanted to nod to the fact that we were still inside an office building of some sort.
Was the collection architecturally driven in terms of the silhouette?
AO: “Our collection was, in some way, driven by architecture. In general, that is just the way that we think”
How did the elements of the space interact with the collection?
MK: I was so happy with this collection because when you were there in the space and it’s a freezing cold New York City morning, you see all this smoke coming from all the buildings, you have the churches in the background, you have the city skyline without it feeling intense, you have the American flag waving in the background. Then all of a sudden, the show begins with the soundtrack and it feels so New York – but not in a very specific sense. It just evoked a feeling. Then, as the suiting came in and the fabrics became shinier and sexier or what not, it almost went into this trippy afterhours type of feeling, but it all felt connected.
In terms of handbags, can you describe the design process?
AO: We design the bags before we even design the collection, so we had been working on the Drum bag – a new shape for the season. We had been playing with this idea of guitar straps – which influenced the bags this season and played an important role. We have a great handbag business, we make beautiful bags, but we’ve never exposed them in such a way that felt impactful. A new bag this season as well, the Origami Bag, is a versatile bag that we recently unveiled. You can wrap it in many different ways and it came from the idea of a laundry bag. But since it’s versatile, you can use it as a clutch, you can use it for travel, and it really works for different needs.
How were the silhouettes special?
MK: The silhouettes were all different this season. This season, for me, it was important for it to feel like a different silhouette on every girl because everybody wears clothes differently and people don’t have to wear one silhouette. It’s nice to see a different silhouette on different women and different body types.
The kimono was an important part of the collection. Can you tell me about it?
AO: We started doing all this research on kimonos which then became something much more linear because we didn’t want it to feel theatrical. We wanted it to feel more realistic than a kimono. You know a lot of the stuff we work on doesn’t make it into the collection. We worked on all these different embroideries and what not but it just wasn’t fitting in with the purity of the black cinched silk and the white cinched silk, so we really started focusing again on the minimalism – we started stripping away. That’s something I can imagine Andrée Putman was good at – using just the best in a space, so clean, so minimal and I think that’s sort of what it came down to. The beauty is in the simplicity. That was a reflection of how we also styled the collection.
Tell me a little bit about how you used the element of ‘shine’ in this collection?
AO: It’s sort of the more extravagant way of making a very casual item somewhere in between. We don’t use fabrics that have a lot of shine most of the time, so there was something refreshing about seeing the way the light reflected off the fabric.
How was suiting interpreted in the collection?
AO: I think a lot of people have been using suiting in a very traditional way, so it was kind of nice to see it in more of a gown type of fashion. We chose something super feminine and made it in a softer yet masculine shape.
How did the handbags translate with the garments?
MK: It came full circle, but I actually had a really hard time committing to embroidered guitar straps knowing that when we get super far down a road, I have a really hard time imagining how that translates with the garments. I wasn’t sold on it at first, but once the Charvet shoes came in, it made complete and total sense.
What do you like about having a show?
AO: Half of design is fantasy. In my opinion, the reason you do a show is to be able to bring a little bit of life to something that hangs so flat the rest of the time and give it a 3-D context. We don’t have the budget that a lot of people have that we sit next to. That being said, simplicity is the hardest thing to do, whether it comes to light or the way you put together a garment. It takes that much more concentration and discipline in a way. Even though people think we’re serious, I want people to feel something when they walk away and it’s about using your senses, whether its your eyes, your ears, smell, touch, whatever it is – you want it to evoke something, not anxiety, not stress, you want to remove all of that and allow yourself to be calm and take in every garment.
How is stingray different from other materials?
MK: When you’re selling stingray, a needle breaks every three holes because it’s hard – you’re going through the spine of an animal essentially. You’ll see stingray on the market but it’s usually like in a clutch or something hard or it’s a trim. This is soft and beautiful and liquid. It should be soft because it’s sensual.
What are your expectations like for each collection?
MK: I think as Ashley and I grow as owners of a company, as creative people, as business people, our expectations are changing.
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