Notable designer Adam Lippes is busy, and he loves it. He is either traveling to visit clients—who are also his dear friends—or at trunk shows, or planning out his next collection, or adding the finishing touches to his collaboration with British home-decor brand OKA. “Every other day, I am on a plane,” he says with a laugh. And when it comes to his clothing, he prides himself on creating timeless pieces for the modern woman—the one who is not only a powerhouse in the office, but also a mother chicly grabbing the kids from school. “We want to make clothing that will take you anywhere,” the New York-based designer adds. Each piece is carefully planned, using cut, fit, color, and details to create a look that is unique with an effortless air. This spring, his collection was bursting with bold reds, soft lavender, and timeless plaids. Pre-fall was all about lace collars and off-the-shoulder stunners. And for fall, boleros and florals walked the runway. Leading up to a fashion show fundraiser on May 20 in Hillsborough for the PARCA Auxiliary, Gentry sat down with Lippes to discuss his inspirations, the power of a woman’s opinion, and where he escapes to unwind.
Emily Heitmann: Your upcoming collections are absolutely stunning. I am in love with the bold colors for spring and the soft ones for fall. Can you walk the readers through your creative process?
Adam Lippes: Since none of our collections are really themed, we walk very softly on inspiration. We only touch on color and pattern. But I spend a ton of time traveling and working with my customers to figure out what they are doing, how they are feeling, what they are wearing. I really get so much inspiration from these women.
Has the opinion of a woman always been on the forefront of your creative process? I trained with Oscar de la Renta and he was a master at that. Our training didn’t only involve designing and big parties; it was about understanding and working with the customer. So that is what I’ve always done. And these women who are our customers, many of them become our friends.
That friendship must come with a level of honesty that can be important to your process.
Absolutely. One of our biggest investors was originally a customer. These women are my tribe—those whom I work with day in and day out.
When designing for the Adam Lippes woman, where does your mind travel first?
It’s all about what shapes she is actually wearing. We could sit up here in our ivory tower and design any sort of fantasy garment, but who is really wearing it? And where is she wearing it to? I think these questions can be lost at times. So we approach it from a different way—if one of our top customers isn’t going to wear it, then we shouldn’t be making it.
Tell us how your partnership with PARCA began.
It’s all because of Gloria Malouf. She is so amazing and a big supporter of us. And whenever I travel for events, I try to combine it with a charity that means something to the community. To give back is such an important thing. It feels so right to me.
You found success at Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta early in your career. What advice would you give those coming into their own, both personally and professionally?
We now live in a world where, because of social media, everything is so public. So if these young designers see a small group conquering the world immediately, they feel they should as well. But I would tell the younger generation that is simply not true. The most important thing you can do is start small and keep your head down.
Whether it’s fashion, home design, or your adorable dogs, you have so many ways to pass the time. Where do you escape to exhale?
Being upstate, in the country, in the summer truly relaxes me. I will spend sunrise to sunset outside in my garden. It’s what I truly love and I hope to, one day, do that full time.
A Spot of Tea
On May 20, Adam Lippes is showcasing his pre-fall and fall collections for PARCA Auxiliary’s 32nd annual Luncheon and Fashion Show, coined “Royal PARCA: English Tea at Ascot.” This stunning affair takes place on a private Hillsborough estate with Thomas Church-inspired gardens. Guests in their finest fascinators will sip champagne, enjoy a gourmet lunch, and partake in a live auction of one-of-a-kind packages. Lippes’ stellar runway show, presented by Sam Malouf Authentic Luxury, will serve as the grand finale.