Designer Adam Lippes has a boundless drive to succeed. He is whip smart and relentlessly pursues what he wants. He was named creative director of Oscar de la Renta at the age of 27 and left the company in 2004 to start ADAM, of which he is now the CEO and head designer.
“My whole history is from Oscar,” said the 36-year-old Lippes. “I had an innate sense of style but it was Oscar who developed it. I wanted to create a lifestyle brand based on American sportswear; chic, easy sportswear.”
“I had the great pleasure of working with Adam for several years. He was then, and is now, a talented, dedicated, and ambitious designer,” said Oscar de la Renta of Lippes, whom he now considers a dear friend. “I have enjoyed following his successes so far, and I know that he will continue to do fantastic things in the future.”
Surprisingly, fashion design was an unlikely path for the Buffalo, NY-born and bred Lippes. He attended Cornell University with plans to become an investment banker, but it was the year he spent abroad in Paris that caused his career path to make a seismic shift.
Upon graduation in 1995, Lippes relocated to New York City and took a job as an assistant to the store manager at Ralph Lauren to break into the industry. A year later he followed his boss to Oscar de la Renta, which was in the process of reinvigorating itself and infusing some youth into the brand. Without a clearly defined role at the company, Lippes assisted in licensing and was sent to help open stores in Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia shortly thereafter. Upon his return to the states, Lippes took on additional roles having to do with advertising and public relations, eventually being named creative director. At his new post, he oversaw licensing, all creative aspects of the brand, and editing and design until his decision to leave the company in 2004 to pursue his own endeavors.
Lippes also enjoyed making casual pieces special. “I wanted to make the perfect white t-shirt, so we launched t-shirts and then added elements around it,” Lippes said of going out on his own after spending seven years working for Mr. de la Renta, adding that a turning point for his company occurred when his t-shirts were featured as one of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”
Fast forward to September 2009: Lippes debuted his upcoming spring collection, which had the perfect proportion of easy tank dresses, soft tees, punchy florals, and draped bottoms that fit just so. There were also rompers in varying styles as well as embellished pieces full of intricate beading, raffia, and feathers. The texture and embroidery-heavy collection was inspired by Lamu, an island in the Indian Ocean off the Kenyan Coast rich with colonial English, Swahili, and Islamic influences, according to the designer.
“I want to make pieces of clothing that are for this season and next season,” said Lippes of the woman he designs for, “The jetsetter woman has evolved. She is influenced by art and culture and not interested in the trend of the second. She is interesting, and not only about the New York fashion scene.”
ADAM currently has three freestanding stores in New York City’s Meatpacking District, Philadelphia, and Buffalo, New York.