Chris Benz: Pre-Fashion Week Studio Stop-By

Kerry Pieri
Chris Benz: Pre-Fashion Week Studio Stop-By
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Everybody is very caught up in the madness of Fashion Week and all of the madness that comes before it, have you seen the madness inducing Tweets? We want to go to the source and talk to the designers (not those in the media who are already tired just thinking about all of the parties and pretty shows) about what’s seriously going on in the weeks and days leading up to that moment when their clothes walk the runway for all to see, critique and hopefully, eventually, buy.

First stop? The Fashion District studio of the immensely talented, always charming and apparently interior design savvy Chris Benz. Get to know his pre-prep priorities, who his dream front row guest would be and then check out his very cool studio, inspiration images and vintage couches in the slide show.

How do you feel this Fashion Week is most different from the first one you ever did?

Well, itll be our second season showing at Lincoln Center and I feel like last season everyone had a lot of apprehension about it because it was a new location. No ones ever been to the Upper West Side, like, ever in their entire life so Everyone was so ‘oh my God! I dont even know where that is!’ So in terms of that I feel like people feel familiar or familial about it now. Its starting to feel like a campus, like youre going back to school or something, in a way, which is nice. Were showing in the same space that we showed in last season so its like we know the ropes about it. It seems super comfortable. I think thats the biggest change because we had always shown off-site prior to that.

What makes it better/different to show where everyone else is compared to being in your own location?

Its just different! And really it depends on the season. If the collection really feels specific in one way or another. I mean, we look at hundreds of spaces every year and we just happened to come back, and had such a great experience last season with Lincoln Center so we just figured wed give it another whirl. But its nice because everybodys already there and they can just trot over to your show between whatever. Unless they get sidetracked by Rosa Mexicano, which is right next door which I always thought would happen!

Those hungry fashion people! And tell me what you have in mind for this season what was inspiring you.

Well we were thinking a lot about a darker, more mysterious beauty. Ive been traveling to Savannah because Im a mentor for SCAD for the senior class, over the past fall and the winterand I think a lot of that experience of the Old South and kind of the mystery of that little village is really special and resonated with me. So, this just sort of touches on a lot of those themes, in terms of old society and art school, and kind of all these themes that we love anyway for the collection and kind of takes it to Savannah, I suppose.

So winding down, three weeks out, what are your priorities in terms of what you need to get done. What’s top of list?

The top of my list is really making sure that everything out there looks right because everything is out of my hands at this point. Its like the sewing machines are going, all the fabric is already here, the patterns are done. Until a huge bulk of it gets here theres not really a lot for me to do but clean up and, you know, kind of rest my brain before we have to style and shoot the lookbook and all of that which will be the week before and castings and all that.

For castings, what do you have in mind for models? Whats sort of the look will you be going for?

I dont know. Its so funny. I feel like I always have this idea of what the models should be and then every season all the models that come have one look, so it ultimately ends up changing based on where theyve scouted models for the season. Some seasons its all Swedish girls and theyre all too tall for everything or whatever. And then some seasons its like everyones Estonian and looks like Wednesday Addams or something. It always changes, we have some ideas about our hair and makeup that I think will work on any girl.

I know its a little bit far offbut what do you usually do once its all over and settled? Do you have any plans?

Nothing! I never do one fun thing. I go start right in on the next season. Its true! Im already doing fabric appointments for Resort so its like the sooner that I can do it now, the easier it is once the shows over. Theres a lot to be said for clean house, clean mind.’ Were always, constantly organizing things and cleaning up. Right now is the messiest the studio will ever be. I cant even be in this room.

You have so many beautiful antique and found pieces in here. Where do you get everything?

I order a lot of the interior stuff from eBay, just because Ill be sitting on my computer and Ill be like, Oh click! Buy! Thats good for the showroom.’ But I love the flea markets and when I travel we always go to vintage stores for finds. But Ive just slowly amassed it. I mean, Im a collector of the worst order so every corner has some piece of pottery in it or something.

If you could have any dream celebrity girl from any time come to your show, who would it be? A real Chris Benz girl.

From any time? Oh we invite Carol Channing every single season, and every single season we get a little note from her publicist whos equally as old from Palm Springs, who says Miss Channing will be unable to attend but wishes you the best of luck. But I always feel like, how great! That is glamour! Give me like, a funny old lady.

Best answer ever. Thank you!

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