16 posts tagged "Patrick Robinson"
“When I was younger, I would immediately come down here with my sketchbook the day after the annual gala and just stare at the gowns in awe.” Becoming the head designer of Gap comes with its perks: “I’m invited to the galas now,” Robinson laughs modestly. (Actually, this year he’s a co-chair, along with Oprah Winfrey and Anna Wintour.)
Following this year’s Met Costume Institute Gala—sure to showcase the best of American design—the Gap-sponsored American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity opens May 5. It focuses on six historical female archetypes that have come to define American style: the heiress, the screen siren, the bohemian, the Gibson Girl, the flapper, and the patriot. (Each is illustrated through the clothes of the time—the screen siren, for example, represented by Anna May Wong’s famous dragon gown by Travis Banton [pictured].) Where do our contemporary icons fit into the paradigm? we wondered. Lady Gaga? “Bohemian.” Diana Ross? “Flapper.” Michelle Obama? “Patriot.” The rest of us? “Today’s woman can see herself as any one of these archetypes,” Robinson says. “Or she can be all of them!” Style.com spoke to Robinson about Gibson Girls, Hollywood, and why he’ll never take the democratic spirit of contemporary American style for granted.
Is there a certain style “archetype” that speaks to you the most personally?
Well, today, it happens to be the Gibson Girl in the spring. But that’s just because I want some warm weather right now! [laughs] But rather than choose types, I can’t help but view this exhibit as history lesson about American women—how they’ve changed intellectually, artistically, with the politics of their time. And it is fascinating how they adapted their wardrobes to that.
How has being a part of this exhibit influenced your own perspectives on American women?
I think it just brought into perspective for me how much the American woman has changed. In order for you to be standing here—in order to truly become individuals—women had to travel through every stage of emancipation here. Today’s woman can be a flapper if she wants, but she can also be a hybrid—a screen siren/patriot. She can embody as many identities as she chooses—as long as she makes it her own.
Curator Andrew Bolton mentions that the heiress of the 1890′s took most of her beauty cues from European culture, but with the 1940′s screen siren, America found its own glamorous ideal and reversed the paradigm. How important was Hollywood in shaping the global perception of American women?
The screen siren was definitely the first American woman the rest of the world wanted to be. Once America exported the idea of glamour through movies, it became universal. Movies also projected ideals of what the American woman represented to the rest of the world. Hollywood showcased the freedom of American women’s lives.
How important is it for designers to be in tune with women’s lifestyles?
Hugely. All of the designers featured in this exhibit became important because they spoke to the needs and desires of women of their time. I try to do the same. For me, Gap fares best when it reflects what’s going on in American society. It’s my responsibility to make that happen. It’s actually quite easy for me to “stay in touch”—I travel, I observe, I am “plugged in” to culture.
What is a contemporary style challenge women now face?
Today’s woman is busier. She was probably just as busy 50 years ago, but today’s woman has everything flying at her at once. She is part of a 24/7 information cycle. She has more brands at her disposal. With more options come more decisions to make. Today’s woman has to learn to be her own filter—that’s a challenge, but also an amazing opportunity.
What does sponsoring a Costume Institute exhibit mean for you and the Gap brand?
It’s an amazing opportunity and a beautiful expression for me. Becoming part of a legacy I grew up admiring means so much. It also invites me to acknowledge that Gap celebrates American women’s fashion at this level. For the past 40 years, we’ve dressed the American woman—but we’ve dressed her for her individual style. And we don’t represent just one of these archetypes—we represent all of them.
Art lovers may be counting the days until Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens on April 27, but fashion types have already inked May 5—the opening of American Women: Fashioning a National Identity—into their Erdem-designed 2010 Smythson agendas. (A lucky few will join Anna Wintour, Oprah Winfrey, and Gap’s Patrick Robinson for the Party of the Year on May 3.) What to expect? “I decided to take a more interpretive and conceptual approach to American Women,” curator Andrew Bolton said at the Director’s Press Luncheon today. The show, which is drawn from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Met, considers Yankee style not through specific arbiters of style, but through broader archetypes such as the heiress, the flapper, and the suffragette that emerged between 1890 and 1940. The show closes with an examination of the screen siren because, according to Bolton, she is the apex of American style and glamour. “Women all over the world base their ideal of beauty after her.”
Gap creative director Patrick Robinson took a push-pull approach for the global debut of his Spring 2010 collection yesterday in Tokyo, offering a mixed-up pastoral look set against this high-tech metropolis. “In summer you want to see something green. You want to escape,” Robinson explained during the presentation. “So I just made fun of that. I made these urban gardeners.” Since Robinson took the reins in 2007, Gap’s Spring show has hopped around on a world tour that’s made its way to Tokyo via New York two years ago and London last season. On each stop, the designer tries to reflect a sense of place.
For the Tokyo show, staged in the hip Omotesando district, he described the collection as having an urban eclectic DIY element. The look here revolved around three main stories: the virginal, featuring loads of pale denim paired with wispy vintage-inspired broderie anglaise pieces; the ultra-layered gardener, consisting of mismatched florals and washed out plaids over khakis; and finally, the folkster, with flowing scarves, khaki jackets, and patchworked denim. Nude and navy platform espadrilles and floral-accented deck shoes by Pierre Hardy kept all three looks grounded. “For Fall this will totally change. Everyone goes back to work,” Robinson remarked. But oh, to keep making daisy chains forever.
From the line at the checkout counter, we’re betting that the Merci at Gap pop-up is going to be a sold-out success. We did some serious damage in the name of research. Even the host wasn’t immune. Gap creative director Patrick Robinson made off with an inflatable stool and two gifts for his wife: a vintage YSL dress and a Gap trench customized with a painted illustration by Soledad. “At Merci they don’t see the difference between something that costs $1 or something that costs $5,000. They understand that beautiful design can come at any price—like we do.” For her part, founder Marie-France Cohen was thrilled to be on New York’s most famous avenue. “We were never just in business to make money,” she said (Merci’s proceeds go to a charity she founded with her husband). “We’re doing something we love.” And for that we have to say merci.
Dress code: Khaki Chic. Maybe you’re still feeling the turban-and-bunny-ear model spectacular that was this year’s Costume Institute Ball, but it’s time to move on. Next year’s exhibit has been announced—American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity—to be co-chaired by Oprah Winfrey, Gap’s Patrick Robinson, and, of course, Anna Wintour. Jeans will probably not be allowed, theme notwithstanding. [WWD]
If you need something a little more substantive than the Daily to thumb through while you’re waiting for the shows this week, pick up The New Yorker‘s semiannual Style Issue. There’s a profile of Burberry‘s Christopher Bailey, an inside look at “online shoe utopia” Zappos, and a piece on West Coast interior-design maven Kelly Wearstler. You show em, ladies—fashion people are pretty and smart! [The New Yorker]