the hardy girls
Any girl who devoted the better part of her youth copycatting the look, attitude, and general ur-cool of Kim Gordon will be interested to learn that Ms. Gordon has long been obsessed with an icon of her own. “Françoise Hardy. I mean, she has this thing,” the artist/Sonic Youth frontwoman says. “There’s an effortlessness to her look, but effortless in that French way that’s just, you know…” Gordon trails off with a sigh. “Also,” she adds, “Françoise Hardy has amazing hair.” According to Gordon, she’s been taking style inspiration from Hardy for a while now—back when she was designing X-Girl in the nineties, she recalls, Gordon attempted to duplicate the pair of white, side-zipped trousers Hardy wears in a famous photograph of her and Bob Dylan. “We had limited success with that. But we tried.” Now, in a way, Kim Gordon is trying again: Working with designers Melinda Wansbrough and Jeffrey Monteiro, she’s launching new label Mirror/Dash. Fittingly, the first Mirror/Dash garment to find its way to racks is the Hardy jacket, named after Françoise. Here, Gordon talks to Style.com about being un-trendy, keeping busy, and seeing Sarah Palin on the runway.
Obviously, you take an interest in fashion—this past New York fashion week, for example, you showed up for the Marc Jacobs and Rodarte shows. Since X-Girl, however, you’ve been on hiatus from the design side of things. Why return to that now?
For me, fashion has always been a fantastic visual outlet, and I appreciate great design. But, you know, there’s so much fashion out there, and for the past few years, I guess it’s seemed like, you know, maybe I should be putting my energy into other things. But when this idea began taking shape, for Mirror/Dash, I thought, well, I might as well do it now. Because as much fashion as there is, and as tempting as it is to believe that’s everything’s kind of been done, once you start working on something for yourself, you realize—no, this was missing.
So what’s the void that Mirror/Dash fills?
I see this as a line for women who aren’t interested in chasing trends, who want clothes for their everyday lifestyle, but who still like to feel relevant. I think there are some terrific European brands that walk that line—Isabel Marant, definitely, and A.P.C., for example. But in terms of American design…not so much. I mean, there’s that whole California jeans and T-shirt thing, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The Hardy jacket kind of sums up the mood—not fashiony, not too specific, but not generic, either, a piece of clothing that lets a woman be who she is. Tomboyish. A little vintage feeling. I look for that stuff.
Why only start with the one piece?
Jeannie Lee from Satine approached us about doing a limited-edition something—it’s a long story, and the original reason for doing it fell though—but anyway, for some reason we thought, jacket. I brought Jeffrey my idea, and then he tweaked it. He’s got a great eye for detail and proportion, and he translated my initial concept into something dressier.
How did you hook up with Melinda and Jeffrey in the first place?
I’ve been a big Mayle fan for a long time, and honestly just struck up a conversation with Melinda at the shop, back when she was working there. We’re friends. I felt like, if I’m going to do anything fashion-related, I’m going to do it with her. And she had worked with Jeffrey, so…
I’m guessing that work on this one jacket hasn’t been taking up all your time. What else are you working on?
Yeah, I’ve got a few other projects—I’m headed out to L.A. to rehearse with this all-girl improv band. We’re doing a show on the 26th up in Saratoga in Northern California. And I’m working with Rizzoli on a book, sort of a larger version of a couple books of my art that a small Swiss publisher put out. And in the meantime, with regard to Mirror/Dash, there’s more coming for spring, including some stuff I can’t really talk about yet. And Marni bought some watercolors I did for Ecstatic Peace [husband Thurston Moore's record label] and they’re adapting them into a series of T-shirts. So, you know, keeping my hand in, fashion-wise.
What did you think of the Spring ’09 shows?
I only went to Rodarte and Marc Jacobs and I loved them both. I mean, Rodarte is always so beautiful, so distinctive. Moving, in fact. And Marc—it’s amazing all the associations that show conjured. I felt like I kept seeing Sarah Palin on the runway, something about the glasses, I don’t know, maybe a Beverly Hillbillies-go-to-Washington vibe. I, uh, don’t think that was intentional on Marc’s part. But, hey, that’s what I saw.