Derek Lam, a Designer for Real Women
While some fashion designers and labels are much-loved household names, others designers have been on the fashion scene for years without ever really being in the public spotlight. Derek Lam is one of those designers—the kind of designer whose name you’ve heard, but you couldn’t put your finger on one of his designs. So in case you’re not acquainted, today we’ll introduce you to the chic simplicity of Derek Lam.
Born in 1960’s San Fran, it was as if Derek was born into fashion—his parents’ business was importing clothing from Asia and his grandparents’ business was a wedding gown factory, so he spent his childhood among rolls of fabric. It was no surprise that he went on to study at the famous Parsons School of Design, and after graduating from there in 1990, he worked at Michael Kors as an assistant for several years. After that, he moved to Hong Kong to work for a large retailer, and upon returning to New York, he became Vice President of Design for the Michael Kors Kors line. After 12 years learning his craft, he launched his own label in 2003, debuting at New York Fashion Week.
But despite winning the CFDA Perry Ellis Swarovski Award for New Designers and being a three-time CFDA award winner, Derek Lam’s shows are celebrity-free affairs, his brand is quietly admired, and he remains a relatively unheard of name to the average fashion lover, which is a shame, since Lam designs for the woman on the street.
The Derek Lam label marries modern refinement with luxurious simplicity. This is because Lam designs by considering “What will work for women at this moment, and to me this moment is about luxury without formality”. His designs embody a blend of contemporary sophistication and femininity without being too girly or overly formal.
His signature pieces include silk dresses with low v-necks, perfectly-tailored trench coats, chic leather dresses, fitted thin-knit almost-sportswear jumpers, and wide-leg woollen trousers. His style of fashion is politely inoffensive, even in its sexiness. Many of his designs evoke a 70s retro vibe but with a modern, sophisticated twist: blocky prints in beiges and browns, fur collared-coats, and his current offering of denim culottes.
In short, Lam designs clothes that the modern woman can actually wear, not clothes that will languish at the back of the wardrobe to be worn “someday” or for that one-off occasion. So it’s no surprise that Lam launched his diffusion line Crosby 10 as a more affordable offering, named after his beloved New York office where he draws inspiration from real women on the New York streets. As the “little sister” of the Derek Lam label, he describes Crosby 10 as “free-spirited and sometimes slouchy, with vibrant colors and edgy prints”. From sailor stripes to sheer shirts, Crosby 10 it’s “lazy sophistication” at its best.
Derek Lam clothes are above all wearable—not just for runways or enviably-long-legged girls, not just for models or celebrities, but for real women—the woman on the street.