Hi, Joseph! lava top in green palm/black reversible rift top in white/orange flowers outboard sweater in green outboard sweater in yellow sugarcane dress in black pineapple dress in beige exclusive walnut lonG OVERCOAT in beige redwood trousers in green palm

In the Studio with Joseph Altuzarra: Part 1

BY Alice Newell-Hanson | Wed. April 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM | In The Studio
OC friend and CFDA winning designer Joseph Altuzarra recently became OCNY's neighbor! He was already our almost neighbor—his old studio was on Walker Street, in what used to be Humberto's apartment and what then became the Proenza studio!—but now he's close enough to be borrowing cups of sugar. I knocked on his door (under the pretense of discussing the spring collection) to ogle the gorgeous all-white layout and to play with Joseph's dog, Bean. Watch this space for pictures of Bean in his custom-made Altuzarra parka, coming soon in part two!

But in part one, below, we get serious about spring's knockout jungle prints and 90s shapes, and the Steven Meisel editorials that inspired them. 

Shop all Altuzarra here.

Alice Newell-Hanson: I’m obsessed with the rainforest prints. How did they grow into such a key part of the collection?

Joseph Altuzarra: I think the genesis of the collection was really thinking about urban environments and how people dress in the city. Simultaneously, I think having come from the resort collection, which was really about resort wear and France and St. Tropez, we were thinking about summer wear. That led us to look at a lot of images of Hawaii from the 50s and 60s, and this idealization of tropical environments and things that were—almost in a really kitsch way—very summery and playful.

We developed that juxtaposition throughout the whole season and throughout the whole show. Even the venue was quite modern: it had cement flooring, and it was very urban. But then we had this super lush background. I became really interested in the way that nature makes cameos in the city and how it's almost exaggerated through that.

ANH: What was it about something a little kitschy that felt right for spring?
JA: I think we’ve just gone through a period of a lot of severity and seriousness in the way that people dress, and I think that had a lot to do with the recession. But the kitsch aspect was really about the ridiculousness of those images from the 50s and 60s, and that umbrellas-in-the-drinks Tiki vibe. I always think it’s interesting to take things that are verging on bad taste and, by pushing them in a new direction, to have them reference that but actually be something different...

ANH: Like, in good taste?
JA: Yes, or not even good taste but a new take on kitsch.

ANH: As a contrast to that, or maybe it's actually early onset kitsch, there are a lot of 90s shapes this season.
JA: Totally. I am a child of the 90s so I can’t help referencing it. But I think a lot of it came from the fall collection, and how that was so referential to the 90s. I was still thinking about the utilitarian aspect of clothing, and the 90s were so much about melding form and function—in this case in a very minimal way. It also felt like a time when fashion was coming more from the street and there was an everyday element to it, which I really enjoyed.

ANH: Were you looking at any specific images or collections from the 90s?
JA: I was actually looking at a book of Steven Meisel’s covers. And, when you look at his work, he went through a whole minimal phase. He did an amazing story with Nadja Auermann. I don’t think it was a cover shoot, but it’s kind of athletic and the proportions are really weird—I love that. And I loved the playfulness of some of those images, it was a lot more summery; that whole Trish Goff era, I was looking at a lot of that.

ANH: And what were you doing in the 90s? What were you into?
JA: Oh my god. I guess late 90s I was a huge Oasis fan—huge! I was really big into Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins too, but I grew up in Paris so a lot of the bands we had were more UK-based, which was why Oasis was so huge!

Shop all Altuzarra here.