Photos by Kevin Amato

Under the Influence: Highland

BY Daria Radlinski | Tue. November 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM | A La Mode
Givenchy and Hepburn, Saint Laurent and de la Falaise... the relationship between designer and muse has been integral to fashion history. Our favorite contemporary designers and their influences are no exception. This season, we asked designers to photograph the people, places, or objects that inspired their Fall/Winter 2012 collections. From batmobiles in Paris to the best skate spots in Moscow, they did not disappoint. Check out what else they came up with in our new series, "Under the Influence."

Maybe I'm putting the cart ahead of the horse here, but when it comes to HIGHLAND, I'm often I'm often just as excited to see the lookbook as I am to see the collection itself. Their lookbooks have the ability to put you right in Highland's world: Remember the SS12 story that OC collaborator Kevin Amato shot of boys causing trouble in the suburbs? So spot on! We had to find out who and what Highland's designer, Lizzie Owens, was into for FW12 and luckily Kevin was on hand again. Meet Lizzie's muse, the “artist-artisan-carpenter,” Chris Edley.

Who is your muse? That's Chris Edley. He's a free-spirited, artist-artisan-carpenter that I befriended years ago [styling] a music video for MGMT's “Electric Feel.” It was an uncanny introduction: having never met or spoken, we somehow brought the same images as reference material. You might say it was love at first sight. It was also a possible manifestation of the collective unconscious or what non-believers might call a "coincidence." That said, we are very different: I like my safe space and am generally over-prepared, clean, and neat. Chris is a crazy, nomadic, smelly, whiskey drinking, heartfelt, couch-smashing gypsy. Right now, he's really into his band SAFE, which is really good. They have an album coming out soon on Greedhead called North American Music.

How does Chris influence you? He pretty much embodies the Highland guy. He's a California boy by way of the east coast. He is laid back but capable of keeping up in the city. He's also a master craftsman and builds all kinds of things out of wood but he isn't materialistic. He spends a lot of time outdoors but also in a windowless recording studio. His lifestyle requires that delicate balance of practicality and risk—the kind of harmony I strive for with every collection.

What’s the relationship between designer and muse? I think that transplanting yourself into someone else's shoes has the effect of making you freer and deeply creative, and in some ways, more honest. The job of the muse is to get the designer out of their own head, to simultaneously ground their work in the real world and stimulate their imagination.

Does your inspiration change from season to season? Good question! I would say that I'm actually trying to slow down how much Highland changes from season to season. We've been received as a fashion brand so I have to keep things fresh, but lately it's become increasingly important for Highland to realize that it's founded in sportswear of the 80s and 90s.

What is your favorite thing to do together? Smoke hand-rolled cigarettes

Does Chris have a secret talent? I don't know this from firsthand experience, but he can supposedly cook because someone is publishing his cookbook. I've also seen pictures of him roasting his very own farm-raised goat.

Where did you shoot these photos? Aside from the outdoor shots, all of these photos were taken in my apartment. It was interesting to see Kevin extract the color, texture, and the mood of the FW12 collection out of the apartment, which I decorated years ago. Apparently my taste is more consistent than I realized.

In another life, my muse was: There's no way I was a designer in another life.

Shop all Highland here | View all "Under the Influence" stories here