Cultured Magazine

Summer 2013

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THE ARBITER Fashion isn't the only realm where Reed Krakoff lends his sharp eye. Meghan Dailey drops in on his art- and design-filled universe. PORTRAIT BY EZRA PETRONIO "A lot of design can be boring," says Reed Krakoff. The 49-yearold creative polymath sits in a gray felt-covered chair at the end of a large gray felt-covered table in the office of his 34th Street headquarters on Manhattan's far West Side. "Something has to have emotion and personality," he says. "You want to provoke a visceral reaction." Krakoff is puzzling out a new collection of eyewear for his two-and-a-half-year-old luxury womenswear label. Wearing a blue button-down shirt and jeans, with his signature ebony glasses, which he occasionally pushes up with a middle finger, Krakoff is the picture of calm in an industry known for high drama. "I'm working on a hinge that's invisible," he says as he fans out a few sheets of paper with sketches of eyeglass frames. "So much is decorative right now, my idea is to go in the opposite direction. Not having a design element is as strong as having one." The power of that kind of subtlety, with its banishment of superfluous flourishes and an embrace of contradiction, characterizes perfectly the Krakoff aesthetic. A creation can be both functional and ephemeral, sensual and architectural, masculine and feminine. Standout pieces from his Fall/Winter 98 CULTURED 2013 collection include a top cut like a T-shirt but made of velvety sheared fur and cashmere, a python-printed pony-hair coat that's seemingly weightless, and a skirt of thin tangerine-colored leather that's been tempered to behave like the softest fabric. "Our brand is all about balancing contradictions," he says. "It's the idea of alchemy, and that's the next generation of luxury." Having clocked a few decades in the fashion business, Krakoff has become something of an arbiter of taste. Early jobs at Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger led to Coach, where for 16 years Krakoff has been creative director. He's credited with transforming the American heritage brand and purveyor of leather goods into a global brand worth billions. His recent announcement that he would leave his executive position when his contract expires next June made headlines in the fashion trade. In 2010, he launched his namesake line of minimal but materially sumptuous clothing. But his interests are not confined to fashion. For nearly 30 years, he has been collecting design, from Arts & Crafts to Art Deco and contemporary examples. He has acquired many objects with his wife, Delphine, an interior

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