August 20 2014

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Tiny Metal Knives and Silk Blossoms at Frank Tell


As anyone who’s caught an episode of the Showtime series can attest, the Tudors were England’s sauciest dynasty. That said, designers who look to the six wives of Henry VIII and/or the Elizabethan era of English history for inspiration don’t generally seize on religious warfare as a motif. Frank Tell is an exception: As he explained at his presentation at the Tribeca Grand Hotel last night, reading up on that long-ago strife between the Catholics and Protestants lit the creative fire under his Fall ’09 collection. “They were constantly at each other’s throats, plotting to overthrow each other,” he commented. “I wanted the clothes to have that sense of intrigue about them.” With that in mind, Tell put together several looks with soldiery swagger redolent of Sir Walter Raleigh, added an armorlike embellishment of large Swarovski crystals to one of his sweaters—a new category for him this season—and commissioned jewelry designer Pamela Love to make him a vest of tiny metal knives. Elsewhere, meanwhile, Tell’s clothes conjured the romance of court, rather than its violence—the chest of one standout cocktail dress, for example, was covered in silk blossoms. As Tell went on to acknowledge, however, he took pains not to let his obsession with things royal get the better of him. “I definitely had my eye on the bottom line this season,” he said. “Like, I used the crystals I had left over from Spring, and in general, I focused more on making clothes that are adaptable and easy to wear.” To wit: his motorcycle jacket with detachable Mongolian-lamb collar, which even a hardcore atheist could see fit to worship.

Photo: Jonathon Ziegler /

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