“To me, it’s very much a reembracing of American sportswear and the heritage of American design, but reimagining and reinterpreting and looking at it in a new way,” he says of the collection. “I love American sportswear and grew up with it. I think, for me, it’s always a very fertile place for utilitarian-inspired ideas that come out of construction, and materials, details and surface decoration. Everything is an outgrowth of this utilitarian chic.”
As the first samples started to trickle into the showroom Wednesday, his vision crystallized. Outerwear plays a key role in the collection, with constructed coats loosely culled from military styles, but more refined and abstracted in their execution. Working with his design team and stylist Melanie Ward, Krakoff balances the structure with a soft, silk wool top and an alpaca and twill skirt, and he tops the look off with a cool take on the beret in mohair and napa.
“Between the concept in your mind and what it actually looks like, there’s a lot of room,” Krakoff says. “It’s been a real journey, in a way, to get to the place where the clothing and the woman are starting to become a reality. The words always come easy. It’s been a lot of work, a lot of trial and error, a lot of refining and kind of standing back, taking another approach, getting to the idea of this woman that we are trying to portray.”
The woman is likely to be well versed in Krakoff’s frame of references, which developed over the years, whether it’s sportswear references such as Bonnie Cashin, a collaboration with artists Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne or his photography of Ultimate Fighter martial artists.
His inspiration board ranges from Patti Smith — “When I think of Patti, I think of a masculine-feminine take on clothing and of a uniform, the way she wears tailored clothing and puts things together with a mannish boot and a more tailored jacket,” he said — to Walker Evans’ “very American, simple but quite refined images,” stainless steel works of Ron Arad and Joseph Beuys’ felt suit. The German artist, in fact, serves as a major inspiration to Krakoff, for “the way he looked at his art. It was extremely organic and natural — the materials, his approach, his involvement of science and theory.
“At the same time, there was something sensuous and organic to what he did,” he adds. “I think that mix of those two things — the intellectual side and the organic and tactile side — is something I really react to.”
Krakoff said reimagining American sportswear in such a strong, almost workwear way is less about the time than his personal evolution.