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April 18 2014

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19 posts tagged "Billy Reid"

Designers Weigh In On Their GQ Menswear Award Nominations

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Six designers’ fashion week just got a little brighter. GQ and Levi’s announced the nominees this morning for the third annual Best New Designer in America award. To the winner: bragging rights and—here’s where we get in on the action, too—a limited-edition menswear capsule collection with Levi’s, to be sold in Bloomingdale’s nationwide. This year’s nominees include CFDA award winners and relative newcomers alike: Richard Chai, Billy Reid, J.Crew’s Frank Muytjens, Burkman Bros’ Ben and Doug Burkman, Caulfield Preparatory’s Vincent Flumiani, and Unis’ Eunice Lee are all in the running for the prize, which will be judged by a panel of editors, retailers, and Levi’s executives and celebrated with an event during NYFW.

Were these all dyed-in-the-wool Levi’s wearers? “I’m an old-timer,” Billy Reid laughed when we caught him on the phone at his Alabama studio. “Working with Levi’s would just be awesome, man—a dream situation. I’ve still got a pair from high school. I think they’ve got more patches than blue jeans left on them. I need to lose about 15 pounds to get into them, but…” Eunice Lee—the first woman nominated in the history of the prize—has been a longtime fan, too. “If you look at pictures of me since my Parsons days, I’ve had Levi’s on for all of my life,” she said, noting that she prefers vintage men’s styles.

Of course, before they get to design their own, they’ve got to show their own Fall collections to the judging panel. Reid’s Fall looks draw on turn-of-the-century American workwear, and are produced largely, for the first time, here in the states. And as for Lee, she’s been thinking of midcentury sportsmen—in particular, climbers from the sixties. “Climbers back then didn’t have the North Face and all that stuff,” she said. “It was about your cotton waxed jacket and heavier twills and things like that. Colors were dustier, more cotton-based, as opposed to super-crazy neon colors. It’s sportswear,” she added with a laugh, “in the original sense.” May the best man—or woman—win.

Billy Reid’s Shoe Debut Solves A “Perfect” Problem

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For some reason, it’s always the simplest thing that’s hardest to find. The perfect T-shirt, for instance, or the perfectly washed-out pair of jeans. Riding boots are yet another item that seem like a no-brainer buy, at least until you go out shopping for a pair. Anyway, that’s one problem solved, thanks to Billy Reid. The designer is introducing his first collection of women’s shoes for Holiday 2009, and debut styles include the perfect pair of riding boots—classic silhouette, understated, not too tailored. Available in cordovan brown and black, they’ll look even better a little roughed up. (The cone-heel bootie and platform-sole knee-highs come in leather that’s been pre-distressed.) For Spring 2010, Reid will be adding season-appropriate sandals, heels, and flats. “It will still be a tightly focused collection,” he notes, adding that the menswear influence will continue to inform the look. One masculine-feminine idea on the drawing board is a femme version of the washed canvas driving shoe, which Reid says has been a hit with the boys. Well, what’s good for the gander…

Shaved Catfish, Anyone?

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When Billy Reid was a kid, his family made the drive to New Orleans with some regularity. And every time the Reid clan piled in the car for that trip, they marked its midway point with a stop at the legendary seafood restaurant Middendorf’s. “I guess you could say I was raised on shaved catfish,” noted Reid of Middendorf’s signature dish. “It’s a treat.” Thanks to Reid, New Yorkers can now attest to that fact: To fête his Fall collection, the designer opened the doors to his Bond Street shop last night and flew up a Mittendorf’s chef and many pounds of fresh catfish for the occasion. The fish was shaved wafer thin and fried on site and served with a selection of special rémoulades and tartar sauces, and as if that weren’t distracting enough, Reid had also set up a beer ‘n’ bourbon bar in the basement and invited local alt-country band Railbird to play live. “I’m really not worried if people aren’t checking out the clothes,” he noted. “I mean, that stuff will take care of itself, so why not have some fun?” Adding to the southern-fried flavor of the evening: Reid’s mother, father, and sister had made the trip up north as well. “My dad was like, I can’t believe I had to fly all the way to New York City just to eat some Middendorf’s catfish,” joked Reid. “I told him, hey, at least the bourbon’s free.”

Photo: Megan Maguire Steele

billy reid: in manhattan and making womenswear

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Just because you’re a bit of a good ole boy, that doesn’t mean you can’t make good new clothes for girls. That much is proved by Florence, Alabama-based menswear designer Billy Reid, who opens his first-ever New York store on Bond Street tomorrow. The very model of the modern Southern gentleman, Reid is using the occasion of his Manhattan debut to launch a womenswear range he sweetly describes as the “wife” of his men’s line. “I’m making the women’s clothes at the same factories here and in Italy where I produce the menswear,” Reid explains. “And using a lot of the same fabrics, too. But for me, this is less about duplicating the men’s clothes than it is about creating collections that share a sensibility.” And an aesthetic, which in Reid’s case means updating classic landed-gentry style for sharply tailored, urbane girls and boys. The designer’s devotion to the idea of making the old new doesn’t stop at clothes: If you look closely, the Billy Reid boutique itself is a trip back in time, featuring design elements Reid himself culled from shuttered schools, churches, and general stores across the South. “I’m a big fan of salvage, and a total pack rat. I guess I feel like, you leave things lying around for a while, eventually, you dream up some really good way of putting that stuff to use.”

Photo: Courtesy of Billy Reid