Fashion Week: How does this look get from the runway to the Berkshires?

We asked designer Adam Lippes just that, and to explain what fashion week is all about, and what it has to do with the average consumer

Ladies, if you do nothing else, invest in good shoes.

At least, that's the advice of fashion designer Adam Lippes, founder and creative director of Adam Lippes LLC. But if you think it's a sales pitch, you're wrong. "I don't even make shoes," the part-time Monetery resident quipped during a phone interview from his New York City office, where he and his team are in the middle of one of fashion's busiest, most glamorous weeks: New York Fashion Week.

Runway shows and high fashion may seem a million miles away from Berkshire County, but the industry may have a larger — and faster — impression on your everyday life than you think. That shirt you bought off the rack last week is most likely a nod to last year's collection. Or, if you bought it in certain stores known for churning out merchandise quickly, just last season's.

"It's a time of flux in the fashion industry," said Lippes, who began his career in fashion at Polo Ralph Lauren before moving to Oscar de la Renta, where he grew to be one of the youngest creative directors of a luxury fashion house. Lippes went on to create his own brand ADAM in 2004, with a small collection of luxury T-shirts; not long after, Oprah picked one of the super soft shirts as one of her "favorite things."

"This season, New York Fashion Week there are over 100 shows, that might be down from around 180 or so," he said. According to the New York Post, this year's NYFW (which ends on Wednesday) hosts a record low number of shows — down 19 percent from 2016, to 118.

Who — or what — is creating this flux? Consumers, and the speed in which we've grown accustomed to getting information and access to the hottest trends in everything, including fashion.

We asked Lippes to explain it all, from what trends are hot right now to how does fashion week work, exactly? He also shared some insight into what every woman should have in her closet (besides just amazing shoes) and what buyers can expect from his current spring/summer collection.

What overall trends are you seeing during fashion week?

Important trends include suiting — we're seeing the return of the suit. Tailoring, statement coats — coats that a woman can throw on over anything that can take her outfit to a night out. Color returned in big way, plaid is also important. Oversized handbags. And velvet.

For many of our readers, fashion week may be a foreign concept. What goes on at the shows, what kind of things are you looking for during the event?

Fashion week is really fashion month. Traditionally, it happens twice a year, September/October and February/March. The main fashion cities in the order of when they show is New York, London, Milan and Paris.

That all being said, the fashion industry is in a time of incredible flux in how we show, what, when, where and why we show. Traditionally, we'd show collections that we would make into clothes that we would sell in six months to a year. Shows were for long-lead magazines, buyers and industry people. But with the incredible growth in social media, the consumers are directly interested in shows.

'Why show things they can't buy right now?' is a big question in the industry. Some people are doing `Buy now, wear now,' or have decided to not show at all.

Are more designers, like yourself, moving away from large runway shows toward more intimate settings?

People show in a lot of different ways. There are the shows held on a runway — the image that everyone has in their mind when you think of Fashion Week. There is the salon style, where models are walking throughout rooms, serving lunch, dinner or tea. A lot of people do presentations, where models just stand, don't walk, over a few hours and buyers and editors come and go as they like. Bigger brands do runway shows, but runway shows can cost into the millions of dollars depending on production costs, and it lasts 15 minutes. ... I worked for Oscar de la Renta, where we did big runway shows. I owned my own company and did shows and now I'm launching a new brand and I really wanted to show the clothes where they live and how they live, so I invite editors into my home, and socialites and celebrities, for breakfast and to come and look at clothes. It's much more intimate and you can interact with the collection.

How many pieces do you have in your collection?

We show about 23 looks. A show can be 19 to 80 looks. It's not always about the size of the business, normally people who do more red carpet gowns show more.

How does what you see on the runway trickle down to the average buyer/consumer?

There are shows in all different price points, for example,, J Crew does a show. Stores like Zara will have trends before we can. Trends you see [during fashion week] we find going in the mainstream about year or 18 months later, traditionally speaking, that's the case. But it's not necessarily the case now, most trends move quickly. [Before social media] the average consumer didn't see these shows. There was no way to see those images in real time, now you can see what's going on during Fashion Week immediately, so trends are being adapted much faster.

What inspired your 2018 spring/summer collection?

The collection that is in stores now is really inspired by Japan — Japan through a very American lens. What is a Japanese take on denim and plaid, and that type of thing.

What trends should our readers be on the lookout for? What's hot?

For spring/summer trends, in the world of high fashion, oversized has come quite important. Shirting is very important — new takes on shirts, such as dressed-up shirts with big sleeves, interesting necklines. And the suiting trend is continuing now.

What should every woman have in her closet?

Every woman needs a great statement coat, a perfectly fitted pair of black jeans and great shoes, invest in those shoes. (He then added with a laugh, "I don't even sell shoes, but that's how much I believe in it.")

What's your favorite place to get inspiration while in the Berkshires?

I get inspiration from my friends, women on the street, and inspiration for me comes from interiors, seeing patterns, prints layering, from the wallpaper to the carpets. There are a lot of great old homes that are open in the Berkshires and a lot of antiques. But honestly, when I'm there. I try to take time off.


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