EXCLUSIVE: Ruffian Moves Its Spring ’15 Show to Hollywood
This season, it’s become abundantly clear that designers are trying to break out of the New York fashion week mold. Whether it’s rethinking the standard runway format or forgoing a show altogether, brands are embracing change more so than any time in recent memory—and that’s a good thing. The latest label to buck the system is Ruffian, which will be presenting its Spring ’15 collection in Hollywood on October 27 after years of holding down the Saturday 9 a.m. slot at Lincoln Center.
For designers Brian Wolk and Claude Morais, the spontaneous decision to relocate their show followed a cross-country road trip peppered with trunk shows and press events that ended in Los Angeles, where they accepted a creative residency three months ago. With the help of the L.A. Tourism & Convention Board, the Ruffian boys set up a second studio in the historic Hancock Park neighborhood, and have been working on a lineup—all sourced and produced locally in L.A.—inspired by their new home-away-from-home. And while many forward-thinking talents (with Hedi Slimane being the poster boy, of course) have treated the City of Angels as a laboratory for ideas, few established brands have actually dared to show there until now, so perhaps Ruffian will spark a West Coast movement.
On the eve of NYFW, Style.com spoke with Wolk and Morais about leaving NYFW to show Spring ’15 in California, L.A.’s cultural renaissance, their plans for the future, and more.
Why was showing in L.A. this season the right move for you?
We have always been inspired by our community of artists. Over the last couple of years, many of our most talented fine arts collaborators and collector friends have moved to Los Angeles to show and to live. The West has always been associated with creative freedom and a wide-open landscape. During our three months’ residency here, we have had boundless inspiration, experienced extraordinary enthusiasm for our work, and have had the opportunity to form a fresh expression of our aesthetic within a new cultural context.
Did you know you would end up staying in L.A. after your #ruffianroadtrip?
We decided to cross-country by car after our Fall show, with L.A. being the final destination. At the time, we didn’t know L.A. would become the source of inspiration for our next collection, but sometimes you have to be able to listen to l’air du temps and react. We quickly discovered through our travels that the fashion diaspora was not limited to the geographical boundaries of any one city. The world has changed, and the availability of fashion online has blurred the boundaries of previously established fashion capitals. Now the global experience is informing the future of fashion more than ever. We as designers need to stay on our toes, and keep moving along with our clients. Being stagnant doesn’t seem to be the mode of the time.
Would you agree that L.A. is having a fashion moment?
Absolutely. The mood is palpable. It’s kind of a perfect storm of irreverence, street style, cinematic allure, and unapologetic glamour. Whether it’s a demure late-night dinner at the Sunset Tower, Giorgio’s Disco Saturday nights at The Standard, or a “cool” iced coffee at Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney, the diversity of the L.A. fashion repertoire and its focus on lifestyle is truly its strength.
Has the city changed your aesthetic in any way?
I think it’s always exciting to be in a new environment when you design. In terms of our aesthetic, we’ve always liked to say we dress the “impeccable rebel,” and that hasn’t changed so much. What has changed is the new environment that we’re in, in terms of different clients and different collaborators who help form the collection.
What can you tell me about your plans for the show and the Spring ’15 collection itself?
We’re going to be showing at Sarah Gavlak’s recently opened gallery in Hollywood on the corner of North Highland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. Sarah is someone we’ve known for quite a while from New York, who also has a gallery in Palm Beach. Her new space is incredible, and she works with a group of artists who we have strong relationships with. We’re still figuring out the actual logistics of the show, but really want to reflect Los Angeles in terms of the way we present it. The collection itself is inspired by the graphics of the city, and you’ll learn more about that as we get closer to the show.
Do you anticipate that showing in L.A. in October will affect your sales in any way?
All of our retailers are totally on board, and we’re going to be doing our market in New York as per usual. Obviously, we had extensive conversations with everyone before making the decision to go ahead with the plan. For buyers, it’s a rolling calendar anyways these days, and they are open to looking at Spring and Fall with different timing. It’s going to be an interesting experiment for us, but at the end of the day, the business element is just as important to us as the art.
Do you plan on staying there, or will you return to NYFW?
Well, New York is where our books and our lives and our apartment and our permanent studio are, but we would like to keep a studio here in Los Angeles. The bicoastal life has been good to us, so you’ll have to stay tuned.