Photos by Amanda Coen for Ecouterre
Samantha Pleet may have taken a break from formally presenting her FW2013 collection, but the young designer has by no means been standing idle. Celebrating the opening of her new Manhattan showroom, the designer took the opportunity to invite friends and loyal clients to preview her latest collection as well as new shoe and boot designs from her ongoing collaboration with Wolverine for the 1000 Mile Collection by Samantha Pleet. With a focus on form and signature silhouettes, the collection features a painterly color palette and several playful prints with ethically-sourced fabrics ranging from silk to wool to velvet. Ecouterre was in attendance to learn more about the Expressionist and Post-Impressionist artwork that inspired the former painting student’s latest designs.
What was the inspiration for this collection?
I was really inspired by Modernist art and design this season. I really wanted the pieces to have a lot of dimension and stand for themselves- almost like works of art in their own entities. I was really interested in using shape and form and color and thinking about how to work with my signature silhouettes. Bauhaus tapestries were really inspiring for some of the color blocking that they did. We were really inspired by early Picassos, the Harlequin and circus pieces he did that were very understated. We were also inspired by Egon Schiele with his expressionistic shapes and forms. The whole feeling of the muses that he used. We thought about early 20th century art. When you’re wandering through the halls of the Met or the Barnes Museum, the feelings that you get from the paintings, I wanted to make that relevant in the clothing.
In terms of your own painting practice, is that something that was inspired by your research for this collection?
I had studied painting before fashion. I was actually at Pratt and wasn’t sure if I was going to be a painter or fashion designer and I really wanted to go back into that a little bit and explore color and playfulness with shape. I brought [some of my watercolors] into the prints. I just thought it was a really playful take on the floral print.
Could you talk a little about the fabrics you used and the story behind those.
The wool pieces are all lambswool and they come from a heritage mill in the UK. It’s one of the last remaining mills. It’s called Moon and it’s been around for over 100 years. We get a lot of our fabrics from a fair trade factory in India. We actually flew over there recently and met them. It was really amazing to see where they were making everything and to be able to make sure that it’s a really great place. It was a lot of artisans and tailors and that was really inspiring. They did all the digital printing as well. I really wanted to streamline this collection and get it all very signature, making sure there’s not a lot of waste being made [which means] working with people who really know what they’re doing.
How did you select your color palette?
Doing the watercolors that you see on the wall, I was loving how the palette was looking and so I started really exploring that and then I decided that it would make a really great print. There are so many tones and colors so I picked some of my favorite ones. You can see some of the fuchsia coming into the wool.
What sets this collection apart from your previous work?
For this collection, I really thought about so many of the details and I wanted them all to be perfect and really stand for themselves. I don’t have that many basics in there. I really wanted every piece to be special and nothing was just there to compliment something else. It was really about each piece being a work of art.
Does it change the demographics of the type of woman you see wearing your clothing?
I think I could see a lot of people wearing my pieces. This collection is different because there’s such a range of silhouettes. When I first started I was doing a lot of things that were very short and I think I’ve learned a lot about my customer. I want to make things that are really flattering on women’s bodies, really highlight the form. That’s what really inspired me in the Modernists work. The simplified shapes that they use and the way they accent the form while also adding another dimension. For instance, the playful pocket details I added- you can have a lot of fun with them- and there’s a lot of sleeve, which is great. I’ve finally mastered the sleeve. I feel like it’s taken a long time.
Do you have a favorite piece?
That’s a really difficult question. I love this blouse that I’m wearing. It’s very simple but it’s like a uniform. I love everything in this collection!