Fashion Week

An Interview with Adam Lippes, Fashion's 'Comeback Kid'

It's a quiet, snowy Saturday night in the middle of fashion week and Adam Lippes is nestled in the corner of the West Village hot spot Sant Ambroeus. It's a familiar perch for the talented designer, who we first met when he helped us with the uniforms for our old sister hotel, The Raleigh. (His basics have been uniform staples at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach and Chateau Marmont for years.)

Tonight is the first night that Lippes has dined out in weeks. It’s been non-stop work as he prepares to launch his A/W 2013 women’s ready-to-wear collection after a hiatus from the fashion biz, a period he describes as "a cleansing year to regroup, refocus and move forward.” The hard work appears to have paid off, landing him the cover of WWD.

With his new collection bowing this week, we talked about fashion, travel and why he never skimps on adventure ...

Standard Culture: You like to travel, a lot ... Where did you go this year?

Adam Lippes: This past year I went all over India. I was in Spain. I was in France. I was in Hungary. I was in Greece. I was in Brazil. I was all over the US and in Canada. I had a great year of traveling. It was fun not working!

How does that influence your work and this upcoming collection?

I think that any exposure one has to the outside world affects their design whether it's art, or travel, or seeing people out at night. I don't really do themed collections, so it’s not like this is an “Indian collection” or this is a “Hungarian collection.” But the djellabas are there which is obviously an Indian reference. In fact, one of the pieces is sort of modeled after a djellaba that I bought in India. Certainly there are always influences from what you see. How can you not be influenced by what you see?

As a designer, how important do you think it is that a collection is designed to travel?

I think today’s woman doesn't wear an outfit to do just one thing anymore. She is doing a lot of things. So I think that everything needs to travel. I think maybe what was occasion dressing before, or living this lifestyle where she had her lunch and then she had her dinner and she dressed differently for both – maybe she worked maybe she didn't – is long, long gone. Everything needs to be versatile and versatility in an outfit just comes from a woman's personal style. She makes it versatile. Quite frankly she can make anything versatile with her own sense of style. So certainly I think it's important that clothing travels well.

So where is your girl going this season?

I think the collection that we do is simple. It’s refined. It’s elegant, and it has a real essence of ease. And with that she’s going everywhere. She explores. She loves having a sense of discovery. She travels. I don't think this is a women that goes from Southampton to Palm Beach. But certainly she may be in Southampton and she may be in Palm Beach, but she is also going to Tulum, and she’s also going hiking in the Himalayas. There is no question that she is a woman of the world.

A look from Lippes' Fall collection.

Talk to us a little bit about taking a part in designing some of the wardrobe for the properties using your Oprah-famous t-shirts and underwear and having them sold at some of The Standards.

That’s always been amazing. I mean the first time that I was asked to do t-shirts was for The Raleigh. And then we did the Chateau. It was always amazing to walk into one of André’s properties and see one of the servers in our t-shirt or the bellman was in our t-shirt (at The Raleigh), and at the Chateau they use all of our polo shirts. I love Chateau Marmont. It feels like home when I arrive.

What is your definition of a home then? You seem to think that you can feel at home in a hotel.

Hotels are very important to me. It's funny because my brother and I talk about travel. His idea of business travel is to do it as cheaply as he can because all that money becomes profit. To me, travel is so much a part of life. Travel is about discovery, and travel is about living. So why do anything not to your fullest ability? Why have a bad glass of wine? It still has the same calories? Do the best of your abilities, whatever you can afford, whatever you can understand, whatever you can enjoy. So I do make travel an extension of my home.

I can remember the first time that I really traveled for a long period time. It was when I was the creative director for Oscar de la Renta. I was in Asia for months at a time. It was great because I was staying at the Four Season and The Ritz. Then, I came home to my walk-up apartment and was like, “I don’t want to be home anymore!”

Now my home has my dogs and people that I love so of course I would rather be there than anywhere else in the world. But I think it’s important to make your hotel a little piece of home. I love to get fresh flowers for myself because it brings a little bit of home with you.

What is ‘the standard’ that you hope to set with this collection?

Our ‘standard’...a few words: Refinement, ease, I want someone to really feel like they are dressed up and look great and be comfortable at the same time. So there is a very refined and relaxed nature to what I do and I think that can be two difficult things to put together. But I hope that we are able to accomplish that. I hope that when a woman sees another woman in our clothes, or comes to our fashion show and sees a woman on the runway in our clothes, she can look at that woman and say “Look at that model on the runway, I really want to be that woman and I can be that woman.” If I accomplish both of those then I think that I sort of won the game.

A piece of art that Lippes once found in the street hangs in his studio.

After “winning the game” and the craziness of the collections, where are you off to next?

I have a country house in the Berkshires so I’ll go there as soon as I can. Following that I am going to Buffalo where I am from, and we are doing our first trunk show actually in Buffalo because of our hometown advantage. Then I will be going to Europe for two weeks; Milan to meet with a new distributor and to see my goddaughter that lives there, Stockholm to do some furniture shopping, Brussels, and Paris. And then we’re traveling around the U.S.


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