Designer Caycee Black managed to wow the critics this past year with the launch of her self-titled debut line. She gained the attention of WWD with a magnificent write-up, and Lucky Magazine named her one of the top 3 designers to be on the lookout for. To top off 2009’s press mentions, she received the Daily Candy award entitled "Sweetest Things".
Caycee Black’s line has gotten attention from a Nylon Magazine-worthy band, ever since "The Pains of Being Pure at Heart" singer Peggy Wang rocked out in her wears all over Europe this past summer. Black’s party frocks are inspired by film noir and enchanted feelings, which compliment "The Pains" indie rock affection.
I stopped by Caycee’s design studio for an interview. It was filled with screen prints and tulle to the ceiling, amidst a pile of look books.
Q: Who is your customer,and what is her lifestyle?
A: I like answering this question because my customer has more of an attitude and point of view than a particular age. I have one customer who bought herself, her 22-year-old daughter, and her mother pieces from my collection. I love that three different generations are attracted to the same piece, putting it together in their own way. I love having an imaginative customer who has their own individuality.
Q: Your Spring 2010 collection took on a very different inspiration from your Fall/Winter debut the previous season. Tell us about that transition.
A: I like to approach each season as a different story, a ballet of imagery. I had a lot of fun with color in spring, playing off my inspiration of Agnes Varda’s Le Bonheur, which is shot in Kodachrome film. Fall ’09 was very much a debut collection in that I really dove into my film noir inspirations, which will always play a part in each season.
Red head model Camille Oz Leroy
Blond model Michelle Schermer
Hair pieces by Kristen May
Shoes by Latoya Leflore
Stylist Elle Werlin
Q: Can you drop us a few hints about what we can expect from you this up and coming fashion week, and what the inspiration is?
A: With the design of my line, I like keeping continuity while creating a new story and palette. I think it’s import for the customer to keep in touch with my identity. Of course, I am always looking forward, and Fall 2010 is inspired by my three loves – art, film, and ballet – influenced with a new perspective. I am playing with the idea of night, and how the darkness casts shadows of mystery and beauty enveloped in one garden.
Q: Do you plan on doing another trunk show tour this year, and what was the response to that?
A: I think the first season’s trunk show tour was very successful, because I was able to meet my customers and stores face to face, getting feedback right away. I have been successful with my approach of having stores, and/or customers, in particular cities host shopping parties. I think people want shopping to be an event now, since everyone has been holding back lately. I will be taking this tour approach again for Spring 2010, but in a more selective way, thanks to knowledge I learned the first time around.
Q: Give some budding designers out there some advice about starting a line. What should they look into and what should they avoid?
A: Hmmm, well I could probably answer this in so many ways. I would say if it’s something you feel is right in your heart, go for it. It will be one of the hardest tasks you’ll ever try. It takes a lot of managing of all aspects on the business side while still creating your ideas. Biggest advice: don’t go into business with someone else without talking to a lawyer and setting up paperwork to protect your rights as a creative individual.
Q: You’ve done some some fantastic collaborations with people such as shoe designer Latoya Leflore. What did that bring to your line as a whole?
A: Latoya has been a long time friend from Parson’s, where we went to school together. I’ve always admired her love of designing, and creating handbags and shoes, and I love working with her on collaborations that we will be selling on my website soon.
Q: I know you are a real film buff. Who are some of your favorite directors and flicks, and how do you tie them into your creations?
A: I love the Thin Man film series from 1934-1946. The two main characters, Nick and Nora, are played by Nick Powell and Myrna Loy. I fell in love with the couple’s witty banter…especially Myrna Loy, who started her career as a dancer. Like I said before, I was completely taken by Agnes Varda’s film Le Bonheur, which was made in1965. The story paints a happy fairytale palette, while the story undermines this with dark situations the characters are faced with. I played with my palette being a cheery Kodachrome in one of my paintings, created prints with some unexpected detail, then cut them out to break up the prettiness. The main pop print dress is a good example, splashed with my abstract painting of flowers dripping down Kodachrome colors. The front is sweet and demure, and then in the back is exposed above and below the bra line. I like keeping the story intertwined in all aspects of the collection.
Q: What was it like attending Parson’s, and what did you gain from that intense program?
A: Attending Parson’s was one of the hardest and best experiences I have gone through. There was little or no sleep, but it taught you a good work ethic, which in this industry helps you survive. Also, I value the amazingly talented friends I made while I was there, who have become life long friends.
Q: Will you be making more hand bags with Latoya?
A: For sure! In fact, we will be selling the collaboration we did together on my website soon.