Made To Measure
In the final post of our four-part series shining a light on Billy Reid’s Made To Measure custom clothing division, client Laura Brown shares her thoughts on the process of having her first custom suit made. Accompanying the Q&A are photos of the Harper’s Bazaar editor in her finished suit, shot by Southern-born, New York-based photographer Chad Davis at Seersucker, one of Laura (and Billy’s) favorite Brooklyn restaurants.
Despite having worked two decades in the fashion industry in both New York and her native Australia, Laura Brown had never commissioned a piece of custom clothing before having a suit made through Billy Reid’s Made To Measure program.
“I always thought custom made clothing was for ‘grown-ups’ and posh English men,” she said, “but I guess I am one – a grown-up, not a posh English man. The sum total of any ‘custom’ experience I had before this was getting a dress hemmed at the dry cleaner. I like this rather better.”
As the executive editor of Harper’s Bazaar and executive producer and host of the The Look, a popular online interview series that routinely finds her gleefully making jewelry with Girls’ Allison Williams, cozying up to Downton Abbeys’ Michelle Dockery, or getting chatty post-show with Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld, Laura is constantly working. This week is no exception, as the biannual month-long odyssey of international fashion shows kick-off in New York next week. With the help of our MTM specialist Brandon Capps, Laura designed a striking navy suit that will look as crisp and appropriate on the front row at an early morning runway show as it will at an after-party.
Among the first dates on her fall/winter 2014 show calendar is the Billy Reid show, which will be held Monday night at the High Line Hotel in Chelsea. Laura’s quite a fan of his work: “I first really heard of Billy when he won the CFDA award (for Menswear Designer of the Year in 2012, given by the Council of Fashion Designers of America), but he wasn’t so much on my radar because I thought of him as only making men’s clothes,” she explained. “Then I went to one of his shows a couple seasons ago, where he showed womenswear, and I just loved.
“Billy has such a great way with color and leather, and the clothes look just really individual, cool, and kind of… American, if that makes sense? More girls need to get some Billy on.”
First of all, you and Brandon, our Made To Measure specialist, really clicked. How did he help guide you through the process of having your first custom suit made?
I love that guy! Brandon and I had immediate shorthand, which is so important when you’re designing something from scratch. I didn’t feel that I had to over-explain anything, plus he has innately great taste and a way of making everything look easy. My choices were clearly presented and he just kind of “got it.” He also had beer.
You ordered a rather sexy - dare we say louche - suit with a double-breasted jacket and slinky wide-legged pants, made of an 11oz. wool/cashmere blend material by the British textile company Holland & Sherry. What was your inspiration for the shape?
I only recently was given my first suit, which is by designer Rosie Assoulin. I love it. It’s perfectly slouchy and feminine - and bright red! It reminded me how much I love that sort of languorous silhouette – kind of Dietrich-like, with the double breast, the wider trouser, and the general sense of ease. I feel grown up but not stitched up, if that makes sense. And of course, I prefer to wear this sort of suit without a shirt underneath. (Ooh!)
Considering your industry (fashion media) and where you live (New York City), we’d have thought you’d have chosen to live up to the cliché and order a black suit. Any big reason you chose to get crazy and go with navy?
I’ve always loved classic navy, which doesn’t feel as stern as black. I used to wear a lot of black, but now I’m growing out of it. I travel a ton, so I’ve always fantasized about having a go-everywhere suit that I could kind of pull out and wouldn’t be a squished-up wreck (which is generally just me).
You rarely stay in the same place for more than a day or two, and we’re sure that only goes double during the next four weeks of fall/winter 2014 fashion show. Where do you see yourself wearing your new suit?
Well, firstly to the Billy Reid presentation next Monday at Fashion Week, of course. I also intend to exploit it at other shows in New York and Europe. I can wear it to work (with a shirt, mais oui) but then out afterward to a dinner with a thrown-on pair of sparklers. I love it.
What, if anything, did you learn from the Made To Measure experience?
That I need to get more suits made! Already thinking about a grey pinstriped version. Also that I need to have a “dinner split waist band” added to all of my trousers.