Thursday, May 26, 2011

Joe Zee: Changing Shape

Fresh off the first season of 'All on the Line,' Creative Director Joe Zee invites the show’s participants to retool wardrobe basics for the (real) American woman.

Joe teams up with Lane Bryant and his 'All on the Line' designers to create body-conscious basics for plus-sized women.

The Mission

For each designer to put a distinct signature on a wardrobe of eight essential pieces. The All on the Line team members could customize the clothes any way they saw fit; there were no rules, except to bear in mind the ideas and guidance I’d given them on the show.

The Designer: Julia Alarcon

The Backstory: Julia started her career late in life, finding herself sitting in a Parsons classroom at the age of 39—a feat I came to admire greatly during our time together. Ultimately, I think her maturity proved to be a bonus, as her collection shows.

The Look: In All on the Line, I suggested that Julia devise a new corporate uniform for the working woman—a look that would help a careerist rise to the top in modern style while still demanding respect. Here, she brought this outfit into the twenty-first century by stitching a swath of her trademark computer-printed fabric onto the blouse (paired with an office must, the classic pencil skirt). Would you wear this to work?

Designer: Jedda-Kahn

The Backstory: Jedda-Kahn has prided himself on creating one-of-a kind couture garments for private celebrity clients since 2005. On the show, he’s obsessed with not “selling out” or “losing his aesthetic.”

The Look: I didn’t want to compromise Jedda-Kahn’s style, but I did suggest he broaden his customer base. Here, he’s embellished the basic pencil skirt and cardi—without going overboard. Do you think he’s sold out now?

Designer: Radenroro

The Backstory: This husband-and-wife team had been in business for seven seasons, yet I’d never heard of them. Reasons: No one can pronounce the name. And their clothes, while cute, lacked a certain specialness—without that, they were just another shmatte-maker in a crowded marketplace.

The Look: I love the details and the color-blocking here (hunter green, beige, and black). Is their look memorable enough?

Designer: Gemma Kahng

The Backstory: In the early ’90s, Gemma was a force in fashion, with clothes sold at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. On the show, we worked together to make her recently relaunched label relevant again.

The Look: Gemma takes inspiration from clothing details from the early twentieth century—like the lace she used here, to trim a chic black pantsuit. Does she have what it takes to be a success again?

Designer: Kara Janx

The Backstory: Though it took a moment for this South African and me to figure each other out, she works hard and doesn’t mince words. In short, she’s my kind of girl.

The Look: I encouraged Kara to develop her trademark kimono dress into a recognizable look. Here, she cut the sleeves off of a basic blazer, giving it a cooler vibe and a curvier silhouette with skinny pants and a belt. Does this look bear the Kara signature?

Designer: Dana-Maxx

The Backstory: Dana-Maxx Pomerantz is a vet of Betsey Johnson and Marc Jacobs who launched her own line in 2007. I loved her the minute we met. But her clothes were too junior for their grown-up price tag. She needed to lower the cost while elevating the style.

The Look: Here, she inserted the classic architectural details that have become her calling card into a basic dress. Did she raise the level of sophistication too?

Designer: Leila Shams

The Backstory: Leila has worked for Bebe and DKNY, but prior to the show, I was unfamiliar with her work. Let’s just say I learned that there’s nothing shy about her—or her collection, which debuted in spring 2010.

The Look: Leila will tell you she loves a sexy girl, but I’d argue that the word is more like slutty. Here, she takes my advice to lengthen her hemlines, turning out a crazily fringed skirt. But has she taken it OTT?


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