Ryan Roberts debuts Fall 2010
If you’re in need of chic, classically tailored outerwear, then Ryan Roberts is your man. His new line for fall is just as expected – full of his signature knits, coats and sweater dresses but in new jewel tone shades of dusty wines, greens, blues and browns, alongside staples in charcoal and black.
In his lookbook, cacti and the desolate California desert serve as the backdrop for models draped in Italian wool, revealing Roberts design paradox. Although Roberts is based in southern California, his clients tend to live in cooler climates, many of them in Philadelphia, New York and Connecticut. However, Northern California and California-based jet setters are popular clientele as well.
Roberts described his client as “someone that wears my product, travels around and takes it with her.”
Speaking of traveling, a recent trip to the northern tip of Africa gave Roberts his fall palette.
“The inspiration, in terms of color, came from a trip I made last year to Morocco,” Roberts said. “You’d see these beautiful mosaics but everything has a light coat of dust to it, so you have a very muted palette of colors.”
Although Roberts uses the finest Belgian yarns and has boiled wool knit made especially for him by an Italian mill, the classic lines still push the edges with thought-provoking design touches, a zipper here and ruching there. A modern open-front coat falls so daintily that you’d think it was made of silk.
Although Roberts received a lot of his education in women’s wear, he initially set out to only design for men. It was when one of his stores, MAC Modern Appealing Clothing in San Francisco, told him that women were buying his line and tailoring it for them that he began to take his tailored knits over to the ladies section.
“They came to me and said a number of women are buying your men’s in smaller sizes,” he said. “That was the starting point. That’s probably why there is an emphasis on knits, sweaters, coats… because of San Francisco being a really big market.”
One of the first pieces they translated from men’s to women’s was a zip cardigan. The piece remains a staple till this day, nine years since the designer’s debut.
Roberts admits his transition into women's wear is natural. Growing up in Toronto, Roberts worked for renowned Canadian designer Lida Baday, whose garments are sold at Bergdorf Goodmans, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. A glance at her high-priced knit dresses, it's not hard to see that Baday is one of his biggest design influences.
“I think that’s where my love of knitwear came from,” he said.
At first, he applied his design knowledge in knits to a menswear line. In 2004, Roberts launched his women’s collection, allowing his passion to come full circle.
“When I left [Lida Baday], I always wanted to have a men’s line,” he said. “So I think there is a crossover, taking what I learned in women's wear into menswear.”
Although the women’s line came second and was very much inspired by his menswear, it doesn’t mean the line is just a smaller, petite version of the men’s collection. Subtle and sexy, the jackets from his fall line cut close to the body with asymmetrical zippers. The wrap cardigan, in a vibrant eggplant, falls off the shoulder into a deep-V.
“I generally would describe my sense of design as minimalist,” he said. “That could come across as androgynous, but it is so specific to women that there isn’t so much crossover.”
Right now, Roberts is working on his Spring 2011 collection, which continues to funnel his creative inspiration from his travels in Morocco. Any hints?
“I was still kind of intrigued by was the graphicness of the trip. I’ve done this whole kind of black and white story with punches of color,” he said. “I’ve never done this color palette. It feels really fresh.”
MAC Modern Appealing Clothing in San Francisco still remains one of his biggest retailers. Dedicated shoppers at the store can even make special requests for Ryan Roberts and they’ll specifically design items to suit the needs of that store.
To find a Ryan Roberts retailer near you, visit their web site at http://www.ryanroberts.com/.
If you’re in the San Francisco area, head to MAC or call their store at (415) 863-3011.