Archerie unveils Fall 2010 at salon shopping event
At a shopping event on Oct. 14 for her new Fall 2010 collection, Archerie, designer Jillian Grano held court in a showroom full of her quality clothing. Grano’s line launched last month, and she is happy to be forging ahead into the fashion future.
“I really just want to make dresses,” she professed of the line, which features a majority of the female staples, plus outerwear and other pieces.
“Every woman needs more dresses than she has,” she said.
Grano worked as a fashion designer for companies such as Perry Ellis and Paul Stewart before starting her own company 20 years ago with her husband, Hal. They launched a line of canvas bags called “Utility Canvas,” which has now developed into a lifestyle brand which includes home furnishings—bedcovers, pillow shams, quilted blankets, aprons—that manage to make the utilitarian look fashion-forward.
“Canvas is great. We’ve obviously had a love affair with it for quite some time!” Grano laughed.
She now wants to return to making garments that allow her to focus her design energies. Grano believes in quality; in buying fewer, but better designs.
She recollects a time when women actually went to dress shops to get custom-made dresses that would last beyond a season.
Grano has long been passionate about this most trusted of feminine garments: the dress. It comes from being inspired by women in general and the place they are in their lives, especially in relationship to the workplace.
“I really think women should work,” Grano said. “I have three kids—that’s my other full-time job!”
Grano said that she felt a decent amount of guilt in her early years as a working mother. Now that her children are older, especially her 13-year-old daughter Archer (for whom the line is named), Grano realizes just how crucial it is to set the example of hard work.
“I realize that it’s the most important thing I can do for her,” the designer said. “I’ve seen her come into her own, and I think that’s because she has seen me working and struggling at times. It’s so important to be a role model.”
Another inspiration for Grano is the early ‘60s fashion of the TV show “Mad Men.” The show’s blatant representation of the repression of women fuels her desire to change the sartorial dialogue.
“It brings to the surface how we weren’t in the marketplace and how feminism needed to get really hard to allow us to break in,” she said. “So you can understand why we had to wear suits and look like men, so we could say ‘We’re as good as men.’ But we’re at a new time, and we can be women in the workplace.”
Excited to make clothes that are more feminine, Grano aims to have her fashions be appropriate for the office without being typical “work” clothing.
“I really want to design clothing that’s more hip and more fashionable, to have women feel sexy in their skin but not look sexy,” she said.
Grano seems to have accomplished her goal. On the mannequin in the front of the showroom was a lovely belted, wool gauze dress in a deep plum, featuring a floaty collar with corsage. The skirt was lined in silk charmeuse. It was perfectly demure.
On the racks were more of the same, each just itching for the right occasion. Grano pulled out a top and skirt of organic, merino boiled-wool jersey.
This is the kind of fabric that nobody uses!” she said.
There were long-sleeve slip dresses with ruffled hems, shirtdresses, coatdresses, cap-sleeve dresses in herringbone and shrug jacket suits. The coats ranged from a high-neck cape in soft pink mohair to a full-length black alpaca coat. All were lined with fabulous, contrasting silk fabrics. “Polished and presentable” is how the ad copy for these clothes should read.
Everything in the Archerie collection was done with substance: Each skirt had taped seams and each was double layered—i.e., with a built-in slip. All the manufacturing was done in New York City, too, at a factory just two blocks away.
Grano already has 30 accounts for her collection and would like to expand the line to Europe, believing that European women would embrace her workmanship.
“Their fashion sense is passed down (in Europe),” she said. “We don’t have that here as much.”
It’s that legacy that Grano hopes we can hand down to our daughters, too: A similar sense of timelessness that’ll be embodied in each garment she creates.
“I just want to make things that are special,” the designer said.