16 posts tagged "Patrick Robinson"
Patrick Robinson’s had a big couple of weeks. Last Thursday, the former Gap designer announced his new urban sportswear line, PASHKO, via a Kickstarter campaign (he’s 2K and change away from having enough funding to get the project rolling). Yesterday, Robinson was named the new creative director of Armani Exchange, and today, we can reveal that (drumroll please…) Robinson is designing the uniforms for Chelsea’s swank new High Line Hotel, which, located at 180 tenth avenue, is scheduled to soft-open in April. Naturally, Robinson didn’t create just any old outfits; rather, he’s imagined wares that are functional, cool, comfortable, and approachable (“People are more approachable when they’re comfortable,” he said). “I start every project by thinking about how people are going to connect with it,” Robinson told Style.com, adding that he was intrigued and inspired by the building itself—a former seminary built in 1895. He got a “collegiate” vibe from the space, and translated this into black, burgundy, and white uniforms that offer a contemporary take on a prep school aesthetic. For starters, everyone gets a cardigan. The housekeeping crew will receive an “elongated” look via black trousers and a long, fluid, jersey shirt with three-quarter sleeves. For the bellmen, the designer is making twist neck t-shirts and sophisticated slacks with six pockets (but they are not cargo pants, he insists), and hostesses will wear soft knit tunics and peg-leg pants. “I feel like women in hotels always get stuck wearing dresses, and I don’t feel like that’s modern,” he explained. His uniforms, however, seem very modern, and even covetable, as you might be able to tell from the five exclusive sketches Robinson sent us (above).
When asked about the new A/X gig, Robinson remained tight lipped, but he did tell us that his simultaneous trio of new projects is not part of a calculated comeback. “Are you kidding me? I’m not that smart,” he laughed. “I couldn’t have planned it this well.” Planned or no, Robinson’s return looks pretty promising.
News broke this morning that the Gap and longtime creative director Patrick Robinson (left) are parting ways. Robinson, an alum of Paco Rabanne, Perry Ellis, and Anne Klein, was brought in in 2007 to revamp the retailer’s offerings and revive interest in the brand. Sales numbers suggest that mission didn’t quite succeed—even if, as Gap’s presentations showed, there were some hits. And so the label begins to search for a successor, making it the latest in long line of high-profile companies with a vacancy at the top.
But there’s one section of the company whose designs have been consistently strong: GapKids. As the mothers on our staff can attest, the children’s stores have an energy that’s been missing from the adult’s—and, some say, a keener eye on trends, even readily translatable adult trends, than you can find at Gap. The Stella McCartney GapKids collection famously found more than a few fans among moms and adults in the largest sizes; and while few are likely to fit into GapKids’ own colored jeans and tutu skirts, we know some who make runs for Saint James-style striped tees and denim jackets. “The kids department is fun,” said one insider we spoke to. “When you walk into Gap, it’s beige, white, black, taupe.”
Bringing some of the vitality of GapKids to the adult sector might, we think, be just what the retailer needs. And it seems to be taking a step in that direction. Women’s Wear Daily reports that Pam Wallack, head of the Gap Global Creative Center, has tapped Jennifer Giangualano, its SVP of kids and baby design, “to provide leadership and direction on adult design,” while the label hunts for Robinson’s replacement. Should they call off the search?
There’s another seat open at the designer fashion table. News broke today that Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi (above), creative directors of Gianfranco Ferré, are out at the Italian house (no word on their namesake collection, which presumably will continue for the present). Reports blame dwindling sales for the duo’s departure. But they’re only the latest in a string of designers who have left or been ousted from their positions at major European labels: Milan Vukmirovic at Trussardi 1911; Clare Waight Keller at Pringle of Scotland; Vanessa Seward at Azzaro. (Christophe Decarnin is out at Balmain, though under murkier circumstances; and of course, John Galliano has been let go from both Christian Dior and his namesake label. Although Chloé’s Hannah MacGibbon has been signed for another season, some industry observers are speculating that her time at the label is nearing a close—a speculation not necessarily refuted by the terse statements label CEO Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye has been giving the press.)
No one would argue that getting fired is fun. But it’s worth remembering that, in fashion at least, many of those who have been removed from their posts—either gently (with contracts not renewed) or not so gently—have gone on to bigger and better. The classic example is Yves Saint Laurent. The young designer took the top spot at Christian Dior when Dior himself died suddenly in 1957. Saint Laurent created a few headline-making shows, but soon after ran afoul of the management and was summarily dismissed. The result? His own label, founded in 1961. The rest, as they say, is history.
In more recent years, there’s the famous story of Marc Jacobs, fired from Perry Ellis after his seminal Spring ’93 grunge collection—too hot for the American label’s taste, but seen in retrospect as enduringly influential. (Patrick Robinson also got the axe at Perry Ellis before landing at another American sportswear legend: The Gap.) Both Peter Dundas and Giambattista Valli exited the house of Ungaro under dark clouds; today, their collections (for Emilio Pucci and for Valli’s namesake line) are among the most admired in fashion. Olivier Theyskens has gone from Rochas to Nina Ricci to current acclaim at Theory, and Alessandra Facchinetti, formerly of Gucci and Valentino, has found new life working on Tom Ford’s womenswear. As for Ford, he has seen both sides: famously losing his Gucci crown before starting his own empire, while also electing not to retain Alber Elbaz at YSL in the late nineties. “From every place or everything you do, you learn what to do and also you learn what not to do,” Elbaz told Style.com of the experience in an interview last year. “I would not change anything if you would ask me. I would still go through the experience I went through. I learned a lot from it. I went through a certain experience that wasn’t easy, but guess what? Nothing is easy anyway, so I’m fine with that.” As the creative director of Lanvin, Elbaz has brought the label back to relevance and racked up success after success; it may not be easy, but he sure makes it look that way.
What will the future hold for Aquilano and Rimondi, Decarnin, or even Galliano (whose own rather more complicated situation is discussed at length in WWD today)? Too soon to tell. Some will argue that in today’s economic climate opportunities will be fewer and corporate titans more inclined to pick low key, perhaps unknown designers. But to judge from the past, fashion is a merry go-round (or should that be rollercoaster?), and for some of these designers at least, it’s entirely possible that the best is yet to come.
“We built this store for people to interact,” Patrick Robinson says of The Gap’s new 1969 shop in Soho, the retailer’s second standalone boutique (following an L.A. store) for its premium denim line. “The dressing rooms face each other, because customers are networking while they try on jeans. They want someone to tell them their ass looks great.”
If it does, it’s largely thanks to Robinson’s efforts over the last few seasons to modernize and update his denim offerings, creating new styles and hunting for premium fabrics to use exclusively in the 1969 range. For Spring, that includes high-rise trouser jeans and bootcut styles for women, and some seriously skinny pants for men, all priced—understandably enough—around $69. The look is a little more forward than The Gap’s standard collection. “There’s just a little bit of separation here with special fits and new ideas for the denim crazy people,” Robinson explains. The store will stock jeans previously only available in Europe and Japan, and up next, accessories, sexy blouses, and leather pieces. Woman cannot live on denim alone.
As for those store-sponsored interactions—they don’t stop at the dressing rooms (or at the ass). The 1969 shop will have an iPad station for customers to get styling ideas for their new jeans or update their Twitter status.
The Gap’s 1969 Soho store is now open at 513 Broadway, NYC, (212) 431-2686.
Oprah Winfrey, who is a co-host of tonight’s Costume Institute Party of the Year with Vogue‘s Anna Wintour and Gap’s Patrick Robinson, wasn’t in the house, but the American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity preview and press conference at the Met this morning drew a big crowd nonetheless. Explaining the genesis of the exhibition, curator Andrew Bolton said, “Our original focus was American women of style—Rita Lydig, Lauren Bacall, Gypsy Rose, and other women who’ve donated their clothes to the Met. But the Brooklyn Museum collection [which the Costume Institute recently acquired and which forms the basis of this show] reflects more powerfully on ideals of femininity and how they echo the American woman’s gradual emancipation.” Not only the physical emancipation of the Gibson girl, but also the political emancipation of the patriot and the sexual and economic emancipation of the flapper. Still, there’s no resisting assigning icons to the show’s six archetypes, and the last room features over 200 still and moving images of famous American females from 1890 to today. For Bolton, Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer is the modern heiress, Serena Williams today’s Gibson girl, Lady Gaga our bohemian (her predecessor—Mrs. Philip Lydig, as shot by Edward Steichen, left), Michelle Obama a contemporary patriot, Beyoncé a latter-day flapper, and Angelina Jolie a twenty-first-century screen siren. Many, if not all, of those women will be in attendance at the gala tonight.
What might prove to be most compelling about the show, however, are the fairly unknown French and American designers it showcases—Weeks, Simcox, and Madame Eta, among them. In Costume Institute chief curator Harold Koda’s estimation, that has a lot to do with the nature of the Brooklyn Museum’s collection. “They were more focused on addressing the American design community, and how the collection would inspire other designers.” Indeed, there are plenty of frocks, in the Flapper and Screen Siren rooms in particular, that wouldn’t look out of place at “the party of the year.”
PLUS: For more on the American archetypes, check out our American Woman feature.