Verlaine walks fine line of androgyny
Masculine? Feminine? In luxury label Verlaine’s new Fall/Winter collection, it’s hard to tell.
Flirting with the blurring lines of gender, Verlaine’s head designer Christine Dow played off the interaction of the feminine with the masculine in pieces from cocktail dresses to trench coats. The soft, feminine draping combined with the strong, masculine tailoring for looks that dramatically envelope the form without abandoning Verlaine’s usually overstated proportions.
“We’re more about rather than just creating clothes for clothes, trying to find the beauty and the art in making the clothes,” Dow explained. “I try to concentrate more on the craft and the love that you put in to making a garment and just thinking about the woman as she wears it, having it be more than an artistic thing.”
Using materials such as heavyweight cotton canvas, soft cashmere and mink, the latest collection features restrained colors of black and gray for bold styles that are anything but subdued. With fine points such as extra wide jacket lapels or extended-length coats, the style’s details give that perfect finishing touch.
The collection’s signature style is based on freehand draping. Dow enjoys experimenting with the flow of the fabric, finding inspiration in the way fabric is positioned or how it swathes the form. Starting with a piece of draped muslin, she coaxes shapes to emerge.
“I like the fabric to speak for itself. I never want to try to fight it. If it’s not going to do something, I’m not going to force it,” she disclosed.
The process is key. As a couture fashion house, everything is produced by hand in New York, and the craft is considered just as important as the end result.
“It’s not something where we can just write down a bunch of measurements and a drawing and send it off somewhere and have it come back,” Dow said. “It’s a process. It’s a creative process of going back and forth.”
The moment she sat down to drape for the first time, Dow was filled with such joy she instantly knew that fashion was her calling. Abandoning years of training as a classical pianist, she earned a degree from Parsons School of Design and was fortunate enough to score work at various fashion houses in New York City. In 2010, she discovered Javier Garcia, the founder of Verlaine. The meeting proved to be propitious.
With a background in finance and a passion for art, Garcia had jumped into the world of fashion despite having no real training in the field, choosing to learn as he went. In 2009, he launched Verlaine, which got off to a strong start when it was chosen for a show at the Metropolitan Pavilion during New York Fashion Week that same year.
Dow, realizing she shared Garcia’s aesthetic vision, came on board. It was a match made in heaven.
Success hasn’t come in a lightning strike, but it has certainly come. Each season, Verlaine expands to new stores and is even sold in stores as far away as Saudi Arabia, Shanghai and Taipei, as well as in Kirna Zabete, one of the top boutiques in New York, which rarely takes on new designers.
Citing last spring’s Aphrodite dresses, Dow reports much of their clothing just “doesn’t look like clothes.”
Her goal is to form dresses that appear as if a piece of fabric has been wrapped around the body.
“When you see it not on a body, it might not look like anything,” she said. “But once you put it on yourself, then you realize all the intricacies in the seaming.”
Dow goes for a feminine, moody look, combining a sense of lightness and fluidity with a darker, edgy aesthetic.
“We always have a kind of a darker, gothic element to (our pieces), but not anything too hard,” the designer said. “There’s always a soft touch.”
As men’s garments have layers and layers inside that are not visible, such as the canvas and innerfacing, Dow believes menswear tailoring is a whole new ball game.
“Ninety percent of a jacket is all handwork,” she said. “And that just really intrigues me how something like that can still be done today and it’s kind of a dying craft. So I wanted to bring that back.”
She even went so far as to employ an old-fashioned menswear tailor to create the coats and outwear.
Verlaine is set apart by its exquisite craftsmanship. While the fashion house tackles new ground each season, it maintains its signature draping quality and unique patterns.
This season is no exception.
“I think we are going to see a new, softer side to the Verlaine woman (this season). We’re using lighter colors. We’re using white for once. That’s going to be exciting. Maybe she’s a little more vulnerable this season,” Dow said.
We at LadyLUX look forward to seeing more from this incredible upcoming brand. Experience all the collections at verlaine.us.