Unlike, say, Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo, shoe designer Pierre Hardy is not necessarily a name with which the average fashion fan looking forward to the release of the “Sex and the City” film is conversant. Hardy’s more of an insider’s cobbler—he tends to attracts the kind of customer who considers no Balenciaga style too extreme. So when Gap announced that Hardy would be designing a range of shoes for the retailer, we were curious. Though Hardy’s no stranger to collaborating, his other side projects, with Hermès and the aforementioned Balenciaga, are very definitely in the milieu of high fashion, which Gap, no matter who many cute separates it makes, is not. But judging by the shoes—pointed flats, chunky wedges, strappy flat sandals—there’s not such a wide, er, gap between high price and high style. (You can judge for yourself—the styles hit U.S. shops today.) Here, Hardy talks to us about glamour, therapy, and what he loves about Gap.
Was it difficult to adapt your vision to a more mass-market point of view?
Actually, I accepted the challenge because it was interesting to test what I like to do in a different market. So the aim was not to adapt a recipe to Gap, but to try to find a new expression of what I love with different materials and different technology.
You also collaborate with Hermès and Balenciaga. What was it like working with Gap—any surprises or things that went differently from the way you thought they would?
The surprise has been that they have been quite easy people to work with. I was expecting many more constraints, but in the end, they really let me go wherever I wished to go. The fact that Gap is a really big brand meant that the collaboration was not so different from another one. I felt I got really great respect and enthusiasm for the proposals I made.
What were your inspirations for the line?
I tried to evoke the feelings of freshness, freedom, and spontaneity that are the kind of values from the early years of Gap. I also worked with the ready-to-wear collection.
Are glamour and mass mutually exclusive?
Because glamour supposes quite a lot of sophistication, it was not exactly the aim. I would say that I tried to introduce a twist of it in the collection by using some more sophisticated materials like patent or gold leather, bright and feminine colors, more feminine straps. So, I tried to reconcile them.
You were one of the stars of a Gap ad campaign in the U.K. and France. What was that like?
Surprising. I didn’t anticipate the scale of the campaign and of the images. It was quite a shock to discover my portrait in the middle of the street. In a way it has been also a kind of therapy.
Do you wear Gap?
Yes! The shirts are great and the new slim jeans are perfect.
For an emerging athlete, that first endorsement deal often ranks as a rite of passage on par with any of the sporting victories that led up to it. After all, corporations don’t lay down their cash and their brand equity for just anyone that knocks in a winning penalty kick or aces a serve on the grass at Wimbledon. The non-Amazons among us, however, must measure our progress through life without the aid of such Day-Glo-bright signals as sponsorship. Really, it’s a muddle, the unendorsed life, a bad system that encourages wasted hours of wondering whether that quirky idea you’ve deposited your soul into is something genius, or more like its opposite. Quiksilver wants to remedy the situation. Taking a page from its surf ‘n’ snowboard playbook, the O.C.-based brand has marked its launch of the new Quiksilver contemporary womenswear line by opening siteLA, a shared space for six “visionaries in residence.” The siteLA house in Silver Lake has its official coming-out party tomorrow night, and the young women who will be working out of it for the next year include a bicycling activist, an automotive designer, an architect developing mobile playgrounds and skate parks for inner-city youth, and fashion blogger Beth Jones, who talked to Style.com about the pleasures of getting sponsored.
So, I understand that siteLA is a work and event space for all six residents, but are you going to be living in the house as well?
No, no—lots of people hear “resident” and assume there’s some kind of “Real World” thing going on. I mean, the girls are really great, and I’m sure I wouldn’t mind living with any of them, but as much as we’ll all be working here during the day and hosting events at night, I assume we’ll be seeing plenty of each other as it is.
Quiksilver has given its imprimatur to a pretty broad range of projects through this initiative. What’s yours?
Well, I write the blog The Vintage Society, and my project for the year is pretty much, you know, to figure out how to take what I’m already doing to the next level. I’m still sort of deciding what that means. What I think is really cool about the residency, and what attracted me to the call for applications in the first place, is that Quiksilver is really trying to support women with an entrepreneurial spirit—they just want to help open doors, to create a pathway for you to make your dreams a reality. That sounds so cheesy, but that’s basically the idea.
What is The Vintage Society?
Like I said, it’s a blog, but…OK, for years I had this daydream about opening a shop that sold redesigned vintage clothes. Very on-trend, you know, like what you’d see on the runway, but made from stuff that already existed. Anyway, I was formulating this idea and started writing this fashion blog, with vintage as a kind of jumping-off point. And I got a ton of readers. Which was surprising and amazing, and it made me realize that there was more I could do than open up some little shop. Not that I don’t have any interest in that anymore, but I’d love to do more fashion writing, I’d love to get into styling, and mostly, I’d just love to develop the blog into the fashion resource it wants to be. A lot of potential directions, but those are the doors Quiksilver is opening for me.
By asking you what you need. What do you want to do? What has to happen to get that going? Who can we introduce you to? Stuff like that.
Were you working in fashion prior to launching The Vintage Society?
God, I wish. I was the girl in the cubicle, you know? Did sales for a while, booked speakers for events, worked in commercial real estate…cubicle to cubicle, for about five years. And I was starting to feel like, I’m this creative person, but if I don’t start to make something creative happen soon, it never will. People don’t just walk up to you one day and hand you the opportunity to do what you love.
No, first you have to apply.
Right, and go through a whole round of interviews, too. Not so bad, when you think about it.
Whether or not you count yourself one of Daryl Kerrigan’s obsessed fans, there’s no denying that the scion of East Village chic possesses that elusive thing, a readily identifiable look. You can conjure it up instantly—a streetwise, punk-spirited elegance so uncomplicated it can come off as accidental. Except it’s not. Kerrigan has always been relentlessly precise in her work, whether refining the cut of the boot-leg pants that made her name in the nineties, or getting the exactly washed-out-enough finish right on a piece of silk destined for one of her signature bias-cut dresses. Since the turn of the millennium, when rapid expansion of the Daryl K and K-189 lines almost simultaneously made Kerrigan into a fashion star and imploded her business, everything about Kerrigan’s brand has changed, and nothing has. You won’t find any boot-leg pants at the Bond Street headquarters she reopened a few years ago; neither will you find a designer hatching plans for mass-market domination. But the look remains. As the first season of Kerrigan’s new diffusion line, Kerrigan, hits shelves, the designer talked to Style.com about doing more with less and her antidotes to hopelessness.
Obviously, this isn’t the first time you’ve designed a diffusion range. Was there something you missed about K-189 that inspired you to launch Kerrigan now?
I’ve always been a girl who likes to mix casual pieces into my wardrobe, and when I was doing K-189, I had an outlet for things like jeans, hoodies, worn-out tees. But Daryl K, the primary line, those collections are really about high-end fabrics, working with really beautiful silks and wools and materials with special finishes, and I’ve found that it’s hard to incorporate those sportier pieces into Daryl K without sacrificing some of that line’s integrity.
But Kerrigan comprises more than just tees and hoodies…
Well, the other reason I wanted to launch Kerrigan is that I get a fair amount of price resistance to my clothes. I think maybe that’s partly because I make daywear, and I like clothes to have a certain simplicity; on the rack, that stuff doesn’t read like it ought to be expensive. Like I said, it’s about the fabric, the cut. But I also believe that part of the resistance has to do with my customer, and I mean that in the best way—my girl has never been, you know, the billionaire’s daughter. She’s got some grit to her, the arty girl who’s doing her own thing, working her way up. I wanted to make pieces that girl could afford.
The debut collection is quite small, only 25 pieces or so. Are you planning to expand?
We might expand the line a bit, but to be honest, I like that it’s small. I find I’m asking myself a lot of questions about the environment lately, on a daily basis, in fact, and it seems like the easiest way to be more green is just, you know, to make less. Buy less; throw away less. There’s so much talk out there about local, organic, what have you; it’s all very confusing. I mean, I read this article in The New Yorker the other day about how it’s basically impossible to guess any item’s carbon footprint, even if you’re using solid logic. Apples from New Zealand are greener for me to buy than apples from upstate New York; how is that possible? But it’s true. Anyway, it really seems like the answer is just to limit yourself to what’s essential.
Are you hoping to make the line more sustainable?
Getting the line on its feet, I feel like I struggle enough with maintaining quality control. The lower the price point, the harder it is to make things that last. And making clothes that last, that seems like another easy way of being green. You ought to be able to wear things for a while. I’d be happy to learn more about it, sustainable production and all that, but then, all this global-warming stuff, at the end of the day it can just make me feel hopeless. That’s when I switch the channel to celebrity news.
And that actually makes you feel more hopeful, not less?
Good point. Mainly it’s a distraction—they are entertaining, those crazy celebrities. I’ve never been a big tabloid person, but every so often I just can’t help myself. But in general, I do try to stay on the hopeful side of things—for my son, who’s nine and a worrier, if for no other reason. Wearing pink right now, that cheers me up. I feel like people always associate me and my line with dark colors, gray and black and all that, but right now, I just want to wear pink all the time.
About a year ago, photographer James Gooding was flipping through a copy of The New Yorker when he came across an article that, once he’d read it, he couldn’t shake. Titled “There and Back Again” and written by Nick Paumgarten, the piece was about urban sprawl and commuting. But as he cataloged the discontents of the exurb class, Paumgarten touched on a theory of a triangle of happiness. “Where you live, where you work, where you shop—those are the three points,” explains Gooding. “And I began to wonder, where on that triangle do I find my happiness in a given day? Where does anyone?” Those questions went on to form the premise of Gooding’s latest series of photographs, “The Triangulation of Happiness.” Now on view at the Diesel Denim Gallery in Soho, the series is composed of triptych works, portraits of each of Gooding’s far-flung subjects at home, at work, and at retail. The project that began with an article about commuting required Gooding to do a fair amount of commuting himself—par for the course for an Englishman preoccupied with the lifestyles and landscapes of his adopted United States—but before he hopped on a jet back to L.A., Gooding chatted with Style.com about peak emotions, Wikipedia, and life on the road.
In the New Yorker magazine article, the stuff about the live-work-shop triangle doesn’t take up much space. It’s like, one short paragraph. You seem to have extrapolated quite a bit from that.
Yeah, that paragraph was just a jumping-off point. His whole article made a big impression, but it was the idea of the triangle that got me painting images in my head. I kept imagining people ferrying themselves from one place to the other, always the same routine, and somewhere on that map of points they make, there’s happiness. Floating around, elusive.
I find it a very oppressive concept. Like, we’re all just rats creating our own mazes.
The concept struck me as both beautiful and sad. The thing about happiness is, we’re not very good at measuring it for ourselves, or figuring out what in our lives genuinely makes us happy, versus what we only think does, or will. You may believe your happiness is about having a big house, but if having the big house means you have to spend all your time working at a job you hate, or even just tolerate, and it takes you two hours in traffic each way to get there and back, how happy has that house made you? Speaking from my own personal experience, I’d say that people have a set point of happiness—one person’s up here, and someone else is down there—and most of what we do in the pursuit of happiness is just the seeking out of peak emotions.
Judging by your essays in the catalog, you got pretty immersed in your subjects’ lives. How did you find all of them?
Honestly? Wikipedia. Well, that’s sort of a half answer. I knew I wanted a good cross section, so I went to Wikipedia and looked up job descriptions. There’s an entry on the site about a thousand pages long; all it does is list job titles. I scrolled through, picked out a few that seemed interesting—or in some cases, particularly uninteresting—and then I started sending out e-mails, seeing if my friends knew anyone who knew anyone, and so on. But some of my subjects I met on the road, too. That’s an advantage of being English, occasionally—people are sort of intrigued by my accent, I think.
Shooting this series entailed a pretty much nonstop commute for you, and according to Paumgarten’s piece, every extra ten minutes you spend getting from here to there knocks another ten percentage points off your cumulative happiness. So I must ask: How’s your triangle?
Are you asking if I’m happy? That’s a good question; I suppose I’m about as happy as I typically am. If you’d mapped my triangle while I was working on “Triangulation,” at least the shooting part of it, it certainly would have looked rather strange—work, work, work; driving, driving, driving. Sleeping in motels, eating in the car, shopping for nothing but film. But I’m gearing up for another round of the same in the spring, so I guess that must mean I like to keep moving.
“The Triangulation of Happiness” is open through April 1 at the Diesel Denim Gallery, 98 Greene St., NYC, and will move to Galerie du Jour in Paris later this year.
The multitasking Milla Jovovich and her friend of more than a decade, Carmen Hawk, figured out early on that their creative collaboration was a good thing: The first collection they designed as Jovovich-Hawk was snapped up by Fred Segal and sold out within days. Five seasons later, the girls have hopped on Target’s GO program, in which established fashion folk replicate their favorite pieces for the retail giant, which then sells them at discount prices—never more than $40. The line hits stores today. Here, Jovovich tell us a little bit about her and Hawk’s aesthetic, and what it was like to combine forces with Target.
As successful models, you’ve both spent your fair share of time in the fashion world. What tips or experiences in your pre-designer careers helped you develop your own fashion line?
Traveling around the world, being immersed in the fashion and art worlds, our many friends in the music industry—we both have been inspired by how people express themselves in different ways, which has fueled our creativity. Drawing, painting, making music and films, styling our own photo shoots, and being friends with other designers also helped mold our eclectic understanding of what we think looks interesting.
What were some of the challenges of working on a lower-priced line for a mega-brand like Target?
Surprisingly, working with Target was a huge relief from the everyday challenges we face in creating our own collection. Target has so many fabrics to choose from, and a built-in art department that can pretty much make any print that we like, instantaneously! And because they work on such a mass scale, it was very easy for them to use really high-end fabrications without having the super-expensive price tag that often accompanies that type of production.
Were you eager to tap into that market?
It’s so exciting that we can give people such quality clothing for a low price! That has been one of our greatest challenges as designers so far, because a lot of the women we want to dress are not able to buy many of our pieces.
Tell me about the Jovovich-Hawk woman. What does she look like, what does she like to do? Is she very different than the woman you designed the Target line for?
The Jovovich-Hawk woman is young, creative, and strong. She’s a career woman with a great sense of humor, is smart and sensitive, unique and interesting, intelligent and unforgettable. We feel that is exactly who the Target woman is as well, since we shop at Target!
Did you learn any lessons or have any revelations about your own label while working on the Target line?
Definitely. Working with Target made us understand things about our own company that we can improve on a technical, business level. It gave us an education on merchandising our line, to make it more concise and understandable for people outside the fashion industry.
Both of your business cards are pretty full now: designers, actresses, mothers, models. What’s next for Jovovich-Hawk?
We would love to branch out into a full lifestyle company, including accessories, baby clothes, maybe even home stuff! We feel that the Jovovich-Hawk experience should be all-encompassing, because it’s so interesting and really expresses a way of life that we would love for other people to have access to.