Runway News


Luxury, high-end fashion conjures up images of well-heeled ladies clad in Chanel suits lunching at Le Cirque, or svelte Park Avenue socialites gowned in Balenciaga or Carolina Herrera. True, the luxury category does include this ilk and Hollywood royalty — as it should — but the scope of its customer base also extends to that consumer who is looking for that special garment for that unique occasion and has the deep pockets to pay for it.

Loris Diran’s brand of luxury styling incorporates just that type of shopper. Don’t get me wrong, the ladies who lunch and award-winning actors repeatedly clamor after his collections.  However, Loris is strategically positioning his brand beyond the star-studded set. Only a designer who is steeped in the craft of demi-couture and keeps an eye on fresh innovation could develop a 2009 Fall/Winter collection that includes cashmere hoodies, architectural jackets inspired by medieval armor, or Duchess silk cocktail numbers with seemingly self-imposed pleats. With his attention to detail, mastery of the art of couture, and fashion-forward sensibility, Loris Diran keeps the wow factor in luxury styling.

A couple of weeks after showing his S/S 2010 collection during Brooklyn Fashion Week{end}, Loris Diran took some time to talk with me about his life, his new collection, and why luxury styling is his calling.
Q:  Now before attending NYU, you attended NYC’s High School for the Performing Arts. What art discipline did you study there?

A:  I was in the drama program at the High School for the Performing Arts (PA). My mom was a dance instructor, so I was involved in music, theatre and fashion design from a very young age. I loved PA because of the diversity and creativity, and also because the student population was much smaller than other NYC public schools. The movie Fame was made about my graduating class. So, I ended being in the movie as a dancer and singer.

Q: Why did you transition from acting to fashion design?

A: One day I decided I liked fashion design more than I liked theatre. Theatre is exciting when you are young because it is such an ambitious venture and takes lots of energy. But fashion design has that intrinsic quality of conceptualizing and designing that I was not getting out of a performing career. One of my first design jobs was designing for Versace. I started at the top of the food chain, so to speak. Early on, it was important to me to work for design houses that had a legend or interesting stories behind their brands. I worked for Claude Montana, Calvin Klein, Chanel; all lines where the brand corresponded to the legend.

Q:  Define for our readership luxury clothing and style?

A: Armani once said, “There is nothing more elegant than a tanned woman’s arm in a short-sleeved white T-shirt wearing a diamond tennis bracelet.” There is something very elegant about someone who doesn’t have to try to hard to be chic. Luxury style is not about the piling on of things, luxury styling knows how to highlight one thing properly. Real elegance should not be apparent. Fashion is an illusion and a form of theater, and should seem effortless. Once you see the effort, the illusion evaporates. Coco Chanel was great at creating illusion. She took a simple black jersey suit and made it into a workaday look for women, and then piled on some beautiful jewelry. That simple look became a great cocktail look for evening.

Q:  What attracted you to the glam culture of the 1970’s?

A:  Loris Diran: In the 1970’s NYC was coming out a dull, dirty jeans period. Women were trying to look like Carole King from the “Tapestry” album. I really hated that aesthetic. However, by my early teen years punk culture kind of blew up in NYC. There were all these great clubs that showcased these fantastic punk groups like the Ramones, Blondie, and the Plasmatics. The Police had just come to NYC and played at CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. You would see a girl wearing vintage hot pink stilettos that she’d bought at Screaming Mimis with tight, ripped up jeans. Fiorucci picked up on this look and turned it into a glam trend. I realized that there was correlation between making a hybrid of high fashion and low fashion, but keeping it youthful and relevant. I always keep an eye on what is going on in youth culture without actually referencing it specifically. You have to know how to finesse street culture looks for the runway.

Q:  What did you learn from working in luxury fashion houses that carries over to your collections?

A: I learned what the luxury customer is really attracted to. Every designer should learn that before designing for the luxury price point. If they can get their pulse on what the luxury customer wants and buys then they are on to something. If you don’t have that knowledge base then you are left to chance, and chance is not cost effective. This industry is a careful balance of innovation, creativity and the tried-and-true science of the business of fashion. It is easy to design for a runway model but you have to know to translate that design to the average-sized woman. On the runway you are showing your ultimate fantasy, but not what actually shows up on the rack in a department store. Young designers need to figure out the translation.

Q:  You define your RTW women’s collection as having demi-couture craftsmanship. Could you talk about that?

A: Couture is a heavy-handed word that means a lot to the French. In France, you are not allowed to call yourself a couturier unless you meet industry standards as judged by a panel. In my case, it refers to the amount of specific handwork that goes into creating a garment.

Q:  Your clothes were featured in The Devil Wears Prada.  How did that association come about?

A: The Patricia Fields’ people contacted us and said that there would a film based on the best-selling book, and that they would like to have some of our designs in the movie. I outfitted Stanley Tucci and some of the other men in the film. I didn’t expect the film to be as big as it has become, or that so many designers would have their clothes featured in the movie.

Q:  What was the inspiration for your S/S 2010 collection?

A: This collection was inspired by Coney Island. The colors of the signs you might find at Coney Island are reflected here – the teal blues, the bright canary yellows, and poppy reds. Because I had just opened the store, I didn’t want to go away on vacation, so I spent a lot of time at Coney Island so I could be near the water. My last collection was steel grays and blues and for this collection I wanted my color palette to be more vibrant and colorful.

I did some research on the history of Coney Island and all the parks that opened there. Coney Island made people forget their problems, and I wanted this collection to be more carefree with carnival show colors. Some of the clothes have Victorian-style details and some mid-century details. Although the show has some vintage elements it’s very current. This collection has an interesting juxtaposition of colors mixed with some romantic silhouettes.

Q:  You are using these the “Gay 90’s jackets” summer seaside look and other themes in your men’s collection. Could you talk about that?

A: I was trying to get old world men’s fabrics put into a very modern place in the mind of my consumer. So I mix linens, light tweeds and silks in new ways that directs the consumer to a modern way of looking at these fabrics for spring and summer.

Q:  Now, you recently opened this store. Could you talk about that?

A: I wanted to open a store during the Meat Packing district and Bleecker Street fashion incarnation, but the timing wasn’t right. When the Bowery started developing, a developer contacted me and we jumped at the chance to open a store because some designers like Maria Cornejo and John Varvatos had recently opened stores here. We opened the store in the middle of a horrific economic time, but we have gotten through it and things are picking up.

Q:  Which celebrities are currently wearing your clothes?

A: I am having a great time dressing Sophia Milos, who is one of the stars of CSI Miami. She was recently photographed wearing one of my dresses with Prince Albert of Monaco. Brittany Spears wears my clothes. And I have dressed the Real Housewives of New York.

Q:  What’s next for you?

A: I am doing a trunk show with Saks Fifth Avenue in the next couple of weeks, and we are looking at opening a boutique in the Middle East.

For more information about Loris Diran’s collections, go to  Photos by Ernest Green.