In Derek Lam’s fall ’11 collection are new fabric combinations to make clothes look fresh, fluid and weightless, yet also appropriate for the fall/winter season. Derek Lam International LLC was founded in New York in October 2002 by Derek Lam and his partner, Jen-Hendrik Schlottmann. A native of San Francisco, Lam’s fashion career started in 1990 after he graduated from the Parsons School of Design.
As a designer, he skillfully manages to combine refinement and sensuality with exceptional fabrics and highly perfected detail, striving to make fashion that is timeless in its elegance. Given the current economy, many designers have had to make adjustments in the creation of their garments. Lam works his magic with a simply designed collection.
“I am interested in what it means to live a contemporary life,” said Lam. “I always consider what will work for women at this moment. And to me this moment is about luxury without formality. Even at their most feminine, my clothes are not precious or staid.”
For fall ’11, some of the logical new combinations are sleeves and backs of heavyweight clothing made of slippery cloth, lightening the usual layering of clothes-a woman’s arm can slip easily under his coats. The bulk is eliminated where you don’t want it.
Tunics in flannel, double-faced jersey and military gabardine are combined with liquid twills and laundered poplins on the bottom. These lightweight fabrics snap softly around and against the body, enhancing a sense of speed in movement as a relief from the more rigid cloths.
When considering the use of fabric in an outfit, both the season and the weather make a difference. For warmer weather, silky twills are used as the inner fabric in an outfit. Cloth usually considered for warmer weather, like laundered crepes and poplins, are used to blur the idea of seasonal clothing.
“I have also used coat-weight cotton for outerwear. With button-out linings in Sherpa jersey or waxed fur and touches of cashmere, felt collars and trim, cotton clothing looks refreshing and still functional in colder weather,” explained Lam. Dresses are sewn with jersey bodices attached to wool felt skirts and vice-versa. For a body-aware look, this combination shows off sleek, tailored styles. For a raw, casual glamor, evening dresses have leather bodices with laundered satin or full poplin skirts.
The newest fabric combinations were created in the mill. As prices for pure raw materials become more and more expensive, cotton, cashmere, merino wool and silk’s prices have been on the rise dramatically over the last two years. Many mills have responded by mixing less precious yarns into their compositions, using fewer treatments to create fabrics from lighter-weight fibers.
Cotton is combined with canepa, a fiber similar to linen. Soft challis has creases chemically pressed into it to create more loft and texture. The same with silk poplin, which is woven with nylon to give the plain cloth a washed, warm look. However, it still feels crisp, like freshly laundered sheets left outside to dry on the line. Viscose is added to silk twill, making the cloth less formal and more rugged.
All of these fabrics are not just cheaper imitations. Instead, mills have created fabrics with new hands, new touches, fluidity and drape that look unique and very modern.
These fabrics also challenged Lam to find new solutions for constructing and finishing clothing-their full body demanded less tailoring, less fussing over. “Some of them are like mercury. They slip from the hand if you try to wrestle them to conform,” he recalled.