Posted by Melanie Fashion Editor at Large
I had the pleasure of meeting up with the NewYork based designer Joseph Altuzarra this afternoon at Browns where he was doing a trunk show and meeting customers and members of the press.
Me and Mr A
Still only 28 years old, Joseph is currently on the kind of awesome - and it has to be said pretty mental - upward trajectory which only happens to one designer every few years. Joseph (never Joe) is the current recipient of the Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund and won $300,000 last year to grow his four year old business. He is also, much to his chagrin, a bit of a fashion IT boy. Well, you've gotta love a designer who poses draped over a chair in one of his own snakeskin dresses, right?
Hawt! Joseph Altuzarra shot for W Magazine
Don't let his chair work or penchant for wearing dresses give you the idea that he is a good time boy; Mr Altuzarra is certainly no intellectual lightweight and he is a worker, obsessed with his craft and constantly pushing personal boundaries with his work. When I ask if he is happy being in the public eye, he admits "I don't want to be 'the hot designer' because that means one day the limelight will move onto someone else. I want a slow and steady progression. Look," he says leaning closer, "doing press is part of the job, but to be honest my favourite place to be is at home with my boyfriend [Seth a property dude)]and my [Schnauzer] dog Bean, watching TV. Joseph used his prize money extremely wisely. Both his parents are investment bankers, so he knew exactly what to do, which was to move to larger offices and hire a production manager. Smart.
That he spent the first 18 years of his life in Paris with his Chinese American mother and French father proved the starting point for today's conversation, which swiftly took us from French parochialism onto the inspiration behind his accomplished and trend-setting Autumn/Winter 2012 collection, one of my personal highlights of New York Fashion Week.
Joseph Altuzarra Autumn Fall/Winter 2012
One of the best everyday fashion looks for the forthcoming Autumn, hands down.
JOSEPH ON HIS FALL/WINTER 2012 COLLECTION + FRENCH PAROCHIALISM
"The starting point for me was looking at the way France is evolving as a nation. I think there are a lot of problems relating to national identity emerging as a result of the elections. French style, for example, is heavily influenced by North Africa and Asia, but actual French society is obstinately French. I guess they are focusing too much on immigration, instead of looking at integration. In the UK and USA I see
integration. This whole idea of integration fascinated me, which reminded me of a cartoon character from my childhood called Corto Maltese. He is an iconic figure in French culture, a quintessentially French sailor who travels the world to brings back new ideas."
As you can see Corto Maltese also likes a pea-coat, which happens to be one of the key motifs of Altuzarra's new collection.
ALTUZARRA ON HIS DESIGN PROCESS
"When I am designing I try to take the best of the European and American sensibilities. There are great ideas on both sides of the pond. The design process for me involves pushing ideas through to their ultimate conclusion. Pushing the fashion hard, you know? I guess, though, ultimately I always start with the idea of desirability. The idea of 'If I were a woman what would I want to wear right now?'
JOSEPH ALTUZARRA'S "IF I WERE A WOMAN" PERSONAL TOP FIVE FROM HIS FALL/WINTER 2012
"A pea coat, buttoned up and looking strict"
"Cargo pants tucked into a knee boot."
"I loved the white sweater with the fringing and coins"
"The Indian tiered dress. This a good example of taking it to the max. We pushed it with the cut and controlled drape of this dress, then just kept pushing it further and further. We pushed shape, fabric, embroidery and print. We got there. That's where the opulence in my collection came from. I've pushed things before like our cone breast cups, and these did not work at retail, but have been popular with the press. So in the end it became a strong brand statement. You've got to push, even if you end up at a dead end. "
"My cheongsam inspired dress with the white cravat and thigh split; I love the controlled elegance of it."
With that, the IT designer whose greatest fear is being an IT designer, leaps up to meet two customers who have booked in to see him. Tonight he is off out for dinner with his good friend and London based designer Erdem.
WHAT TO BUY FROM JOSEPH ALTUZARRA NOW: all from Browns
Jersey panelled skater Dress £895
Chunky cotton knit lime Jumper £540
Techno Nylon jacket £1515
All from BrownsFashion.com
With thanks to Zoe and Sarah at Zoe Communications & Browns