From the outside looking in, the days leading up to the shows at all of the major design houses seem like they must be so glamorous model castings, putting together looks and planning a runway show for a packed house of admirers. Trust me, I’m guilty of this sentiment myself. While all of the pre-show action is definitely exciting, life during Fashion Week is anything but glam for designers like Adam Lippes working until the wee hours, anxiously waiting for fabrics and samples to arrive and making last second decisions about which runway looks are in or out.
Adam took a little break to chat with me on Friday at his studio inside of Milk. His Fall 2011 collection for ADAM walks on Saturday afternoon, and here he shares his favorite late night pick-me-ups, a few Fashion Week horror stories and why he sometimes feels like Oscar de la Renta‘s Mini-Me.
Could you describe the inspiration for your upcoming collection?
We take inspiration really lightly here. It always starts with a point of reference. Usually it’s something from the art world, then it melds into who the ADAM girl is, what her friends are wearing and what I see in the street we don’t do anything that’s really focused on the inspiration.
However, this season’s inspiration started from an American-Indian exhibit. I love the colors Native Americans use. I love all their embroideries, their textures and the whole earthly feeling and the spirituality of it all and this started with an exhibit here in New York City.
I want to hear what your life is going to be like for the next week. When is your show?
Our show is next Saturday. Right now, there’s a bit of a lull because things are being sewn like crazy. Everything is out. There are a few last minute dresses we’ll make and we’ll have fittings everyday, but the craziness really starts on Monday fittings, music, hair and makeup tests. It goes really fast. But the most fun times of the whole year for me are during this week right before the show.
How long are your days, from Monday up until the show?
It really depends on what’s going on. I try not to work super super late, I feel it’s not productive. [The designers] do the studio is here, and they sew ’til midnight every night. For the past two weeks it’s been 10 PM, then it shifts to midnight this weekend. The night before the show is really late because of fittings and issues and problems and all that stuff. They’re really long days but they’re so fun. You don’t have a second to think.
What do you use as a pick-me-up? Whether it’s fun pop music or coffee or snacks!
We eat like crazy here there’s food everywhere. It’s a problem! Yesterday was the Chinese New Year, so everyone that is Chinese here brought food. The studio was filled with fried… whatever. I was like, get all of this out of there! It was insane, but we all eat. The whole design studio smokes. I don’t though.
What about music and models? What do you have in mind for the show?
Michel Gaubert does our music, and Steven Brinke, those boys are amazing. I give them inspiration I send them photos, I send them songs I like and they’re always like, ‘Oh my God that’s so old!’ But they’re brilliant. I brought them to work with Oscar de la Renta so long ago. It’s so nice to be working with a team, they’re so supportive. And Anita Bitton does our casting. She starts today.
Do you have any specific type of girl in mind?
You know, I like them to be super fresh and happy and I love when they have their own sense of style because it so shows through on the runway. I’m not like a model-obsessed designer. I really rely on Anita’s advice and people around me to be like, ‘Yea she’s cool.’ So I kind of get talked into that.
Do you care to share a fashion week horror story?
I’ve had two already this season! We do these amazing hand-knit sweaters people really love our sweaters and we do like ten sweater groups per season. Our most important sweater factory burnt to the ground ten days ago, including all of our samples in Uruguay. Thankfully no one got hurt, but I was like, ‘What about my samples!’ Luckily, I know a woman here that hand knits. She works with church groups, and our sweaters are really complicated to hand-knit. So we have sweaters now in every church in New York City , so that was a disaster! We had to go buy local yarn which is difficult, and dye, we learned a whole new process. We usually just use this woman for last minute additions, and now she’s doing like 20 sweaters. It’ll be fun when those bills come in!
The weather has caused a lot of problems for us, too, because of FedEx days and days of delays on fabrics. You know how we work we can’t delay the show. But I can see how it happens. Luckily they’re all here now. And Chinese New Year was a problem because all the factories were closed yesterday.
Do you have any particular songs you like to listen to? What keeps you going?
Everyone gets a turn with music whatever they want except some people who listen to horrible music, like our fabric guy. He listens to Kenny G or something. We allowed him to choose music once, but now he’s banned.
Do you prefer quiet when you work?
When I’m in fittings I prefer quiet. I want to hear everyone’s opinion, but when everyone’s talking you know I have to make a decision. I also didn’t go to fashion school, I didn’t start designing super young, I did my whole life at Oscar, so I really learned from him that’s like my family. He doesn’t have music on. Sometimes I feel like Mini Me with Oscar. I can see myself rocking back and forth, sitting in my chair, just like he does!
How old were you when you started for him?
I finished Cornell and I started at Ralph Lauren. I was there for eight months. Then I went to Oscar when I was right out of college and stayed there for eight years. In fashion years, that’s a long time! I started as an assistant and really just grew up there. So yeah, I went to school at De La Renta’s University.
Yea! Not bad I wish I could go back for a refresher once in a while!