derek lam | fashion designer
derek lam | fashion designer

shining our spotlight on american fashion designer and dear friend, derek lam. we spent some time together this week with derek and roscoe in madison square park, nyc.


okay here we go:


the salting: congratulations on all you have achieved thus far in your beautiful career. what was the driving force behind the decision to launch your own label?

derek lam: I started the brand to reflect my values regarding luxury: refined, with a laid back luxury. modern, with an emphasis on a calculated simplicity and attention to detailing. egoless, spotlighting the product, not the creator.


ts: we remember being at your very first show and the opening music by joni mitchel (swoon). why joni mitchel? because of your california roots?

dl: joni mitchel is my idol. her music of course, but especially her point of view, which is uniquely personal, but can be interpreted and understood universally.


ts: how has the west coast impacted your design aesthetic?

dl: growing up on the west coast, I understand the informality of the californian lifestyle. growing up specifically in san francisco, which is the most traditional of the west's cities, I understand the formal ideas of dressing and socializing.


ts: you have had the honor of dressing some wonderful people. can you name 3 that you are most proud of and why?

dl: diane keaton, laura linney and meryl streep. all talented actresses. but I also have to include the clients which are not bold face names, like the stanford university scientist who comes to shop my collection each time I'm on the west coast. I'm very proud of that relationship.


ts: with the retail climate changing so drastically, where do you see your business in 5 years?

dl: once the retail landscape settles, and I do believe the future includes retail stores, but the growth will come from the derek lam website.


ts: can you please share 3 movies that have inspired you as a designer/ influenced your collections?

dl: chinatown, in the mood for love and blade runner.


ts: now please name 3 movies that you love and have NOTHING to do with fashion/ brand inspiration?

dl: young frankenstein, bring it on, brining up baby.....oh, and dirty rotten scoundrels. sorry that is 4 (silly but brilliant comedies)


ts: last movie you have seen in an actual movie theater?

dl: always: star wars. must see in a theater.


ts: you have been a strong supporter of the salting from our first step. any advice as we approach season5?

dl: please make a swimsuit which is comfy, but sexy; practical but flattering; discreet but not too small; organic but durable. in navy blue, but almost black. good luck!


ts: who/what is inspiring you these days?

dl: 1930s menswear and HELLO! magazine.


ts: may we ask you favorite nyc restaurants?

dl: omen, the russian tea room, and sardi's. I like a classic.


ts: you have often worked with james scully, casting your shows throughout the years. could you select three moments of perfect casting? models in specific looks that defined your brand vision?

dl: too many to mention. but my favorite moment of a show is seeing the models lined up, fully dressed in hair and make up, waiting for the show to begin. it's kind of a perfect moment.


ts: tom pecheux: we are big fans of his work as well in beauty/ make up. he too has been by your side throughout your career: could you select three moments that define derek lam beauty?

dl: tom know I love a bit of color and subtle drama for my shows. he has done bright yellow eyeshadow one fall season, a simplified kabuki eyelid for a spring collection and an edward gorey inspired kohl around the eyes for another season. i like that make up, especially for a show. is unexpected and feel spontaneous.


ts: describe your high school self in three words:

dl: quiet, daydreamy, raging hormones.


ts: describe yourself today in three words:

dl: quiet, daydreamy, hormone levels still detectable.