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大牌背后的影子设计师

更新时间:2014-2-7 11:38:48 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Meet A Ghost Designer
大牌背后的影子设计师

The label says Vince Camuto. But the actual designer of this men's apparel line is far from a household name. a

Matteo Gottardi is a prolifiac fashion designer who creates clothes for half a dozen different labels, from rugged jackets for Joseph Abboud to traditional woven shirts for Nordstrom's private label. As a hired gun, Mr. Gottardi encouraged trendy designer Rogan Gregory to use a palette of neutral colors in a recent collection and gave Vince Camuto's menswear its slim-cut, cool-dude look. He has also designed menswear for Levi's, a men's capsule collection for Nicole Miller and Macy's private-label clothing line.

'I see myself as like a ghost writer,' he says.

While one famous designer may put his name on shirts, pants, coats, shoes, belts, ties, sunglasses and cosmetics, in truth, no human being could possibly design so much. Does Karl Lagerfeld design every pert Chanel skirt, jacket and shoe, in addition to designing the separate Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld brands he shepherds? Not even remotely.

'There aren't enough hours in the day,' says Vince Camuto, the man whose eponymous brand produces 30 categories of men's and women's products, from sportswear to high heels.

Instead, many of the people whose names appear on our clothing labels are titled 'creative director,' and their job is to sprinkle the pixie dust of a fashion concept onto teams of designers. This involves conveying the emotions a brand aims to evoke (romantic, sexy, businesslike or sporty) and key colors and silhouettes to the actual designers, who knuckle down to the task of turning those ideas into pockets, seams, legs and sleeves.

It's all part of an increasingly complex apparel chain, which takes clothing from an idea conceived in one part of the world to factories in other countries, and eventually into stores all over. Brands these days are putting out so many more products, from sunglasses and scents, that they are hiring more designers to handle the workload.

Mr. Gottardi -- who employs his own design team at his company, WRKSHOP, in New York City -- usually designs for several labels simultaneously. 'You're everywhere!' exclaimed Tina Aniversario, Nordstrom men's sportswear national merchandising manager, after bumping into him in a series of meetings with several labels. His clients say he is exceptionally good at sussing out their brand identity and designing around it.

Mr. Gottardi, 31 years old, isn't a design-school graduate, though he says he always wanted to be a fashion designer. Instead, his father insisted that he attend business school, so he went to the NYU Stern School of Business. 'It was the biggest gift he ever gave me,' Mr. Gottardi says of his father's push. Business school, he says, taught him to explain design in a pragmatic way.

Mr. Gottardi has broader aims in fashion. He is developing his own brand, W.R.K., and would like to design sustainable-material apparel like the uniforms he created for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurants with Rogan Gregory.

Nordstrom now sells W.R.K. designs such as a slim woolen topcoat with leather-trim pockets called the Towne. 'The wool-blend 'Towne' topcoat that sells for $495 is an example of Matteo's ability to update a classic sportswear piece at a great price point,' Nordstrom's Ms. Aniversario says.

Mr. Gottardi was hired to create a sporty menswear line last year for the Vince Camuto brand. The fast-growing fashion business was founded by Mr. Camuto, who co-founded Nine West shoes before selling it in 1999.

After producing a fast-expanding line of women's wear, Mr. Camuto says he spied a new niche in menswear a little more than a year ago, when his now-24-year-old son John Camuto went shopping for a business suit and returned complaining that everything he tried was 'too boxy and loose.'

It was apparent that many men's suits were being made in the traditional looser sizing, while many men seek the slimmer, more 1960s 'Mad Men' look.

'We thought, 'What an opportunity,' ' says Mr. Camuto, who set an opening price for suits of about $495. A full collection of menswear would accompany the suits that inspired the line.

But Mr. Camuto needed a partner to locate materials, manufacture the clothing at a relatively low cost and handle sales. He licensed the Vince Camuto menswear brand to the U.S. arm of Japanese trading giant Itochu Corp., which in turn hired Mr. Gottardi to design the apparel in New York.

Itochu's reasons for hiring Mr. Gottardi may come as a wake-up call to students of fashion design who expect to spend their days sketching and draping fabric. Itochu sought communication skills -- someone who could listen to what Mr. Camuto and the in-house team wanted, reflect it with the sort of styling details that would mesh with the Vince Camuto brand, and work with the factories to produce it correctly.

'Matteo is very good at dealing with the visionary leadership of the brand,' says Dan Orwig, director of Itochu's U.S. men's division.

Mr. Orwig notes that Mr. Gottardi doesn't get overly enamored of high-fashion trends that might alienate less fashion-forward men -- a trait particularly valuable in menswear, where even leather detailing on a topcoat pocket is daring.

'He has a great way of adding value and detail to product that's not overly trendy, but is trend-right,' Mr. Orwig says.

When he was hired, Mr. Gottardi met with the brand's in-house creative team, which had assembled 'inspiration' boards with photos, fabric samples and other items to convey the broader look of the brand for the season. Once he had translated that into specific garments last fall, he presented drawings and samples to the in-house team for approval -- taking care to suggest that each design was simply an outgrowth of their artistic direction.

'You know that I have designed this garment 100%, but I never say 'me'. I always say 'we,' Mr. Gottardi says. 'The easiest way for people to approve something is to have a part in it.'

标牌上写的是文斯·卡穆托(Vince Camuto),但这个男装系列真正的操刀设计者却远非一个知名设计师。

马泰奥·戈塔尔迪(Matteo Gottardi)是一名多产的时装设计师,为五六个不同的品牌设计服装,其中既有为Joseph Abboud设计的风格粗犷的短上衣,也有为诺德斯特龙百货(Nordstrom)自有品牌设计的传统针织衬衫。作为一名“枪手”设计师,戈塔尔迪鼓动时尚设计师罗根·格雷戈里(Rogan Gregory)在近期一个系列中运用了一系列中性色彩,并给文斯·卡穆托男装打造了修身剪裁、酷感十足的款型。他还替李维斯(Levi's)设计男装、为Nicole Miller设计了男士套装系列,并操刀梅西百货(Macy)的自有品牌系列。

戈塔尔迪说:“我把自己看作一个影子写手。”

衬衫、裤子、大衣、鞋履、皮带、领带、太阳镜和化妆品上印着的或许是大牌设计师的名字,但是实际上没有人能设计得了那么多东西。以卡尔·拉格菲尔德(Karl Lagerfeld)为例,除了他本人掌舵的独立的芬迪(Fendi)和卡尔·拉格菲尔德品牌的设计之外,他还要亲自设计每一款时髦的香奈儿(Chanel)裙装、外套和鞋履吗?完全不是这么一回事。

文斯·卡穆托(Vince Camuto)说:“时间根本就不够。”他的同名品牌出品30类男士与女士产品,从运动装到高跟鞋,一应俱全。

事实是,在那些名字出现在服装标牌上的人当中,有许多人的头衔是“创意总监”,他们的工作是将一个时装设计理念的“魔力粉” 向一群群设计师。这包括将一个品牌期望唤起的感觉(浪漫、性感、商务式或运动风格)、主打色彩及版型传达给实际操刀的设计师,而后者则致力于将这些理念转变为具体的口袋、缝线、裤腿和衣袖。

这是越来越复杂的服装产业链中的一个环节。在这个链条中,设计理念先在世界某个地方构思出来,然后在其他国家的工厂生产出来,最后被运往各地的店面。现如今,各品牌推出的产品更多了,比如太阳镜和香氛等,所以他们要增聘设计师来处理这些工作任务。

戈塔尔迪在纽约有一家名为WRKSHOP的公司,他也聘用自己的设计团队。他常常要同时为几个品牌操刀设计。诺德斯特龙男士休闲服全国销售经理蒂娜·阿尼韦萨里奥(Tina Aniversario)在与数个品牌的多次会议中都碰到了他,这让她不禁惊呼道:“你真是无处不在啊!” 戈塔尔迪的客户说他特别善于理解他们的品牌定位并围绕这个定位进行设计。

现年31岁的戈塔尔迪说他一直希望成为一名时装设计师,但他并非设计科班出身。当年他的父亲坚持要他上商学院,于是他去了纽约大学斯特恩商学院(NYU Stern School of Business)就读。他在谈到父亲的举动时说:“这是他给过我的最大的礼物。”他说,商学院教会了他以一种务实的方式来阐释设计。

戈塔尔迪对于时装还拥有更远大的目标。他正在打造他自己的品牌——W.R.K.,喜欢设计可持续面料的服装,就像他与格雷戈里为Chipotle Mexican Grill餐厅设计的制服。

诺德斯特龙现在也出售W.R.K.的产品,比如口袋以皮革镶边、名为“Towne”的修身款羊毛轻便大衣。阿尼韦萨里奥说:“这款售价495美元的Towne羊毛混纺轻便大衣展现了马泰奥以一个很合适的价位为一款经典休闲服赋予新意的能力。”

戈塔尔迪在去年受聘为文斯·卡穆托设计一个男装便服系列。这一发展迅猛的品牌是卡穆托开创的,他曾是鞋履品牌玖熙(Nine West)的联合创始人,后在1999年将它出售。

卡穆托说,在打造了一个快速扩张的女装系列后,他又在一年多年前发现了一个男装利基市场。当时他的儿子约翰·卡穆托(John Camuto,现年24岁)出门去买一套西装,回来时抱怨他试的每一套衣服都“太板正宽松了”。

很显然,许多男士西服都是按传统的宽松尺码做的,但是许多男性想要更修身、类似《广告狂人》(Mad Men)中上世纪60年代风格的款型。

卡穆托说:“当时我们想,‘多好的一个机会’。”他还给西服定下了约495美元的起始价。这些西服又催生了一个与之配套的完整男装系列。

不过,他还需要一位合作伙伴来找原料、以较低的成本制作服装以及处理销售事务。于是,他把文斯·卡穆托男装品牌授权给日本贸易巨头伊藤忠商事株式会社(Itochu Corp.)的美国分公司,而伊藤忠又聘用了戈塔尔迪在纽约设计服装。

伊藤忠聘用戈塔尔迪的理由或许可警醒学习时装设计的学生,他们往往都期望把时间花在画图和给布料打褶上。伊藤忠寻求的是沟通能力——这名设计师要能够听取卡穆托及其内部设计团队的要求,以能够与文斯·卡穆托品牌融合的那种设计细节将其表现出来,并与工厂合作把它精准地生产出来。

伊藤忠美国男装部门总监丹·奥维格(Dan Orwig)称:“马泰奥非常善于处理这个品牌富有远见卓识的行业领先的风格。”

他指出,戈塔尔迪不会过度沉迷于可能会疏离不赶时尚男士的高端时尚潮流——这一特点在男装界尤为可贵。在这一领域,在轻便大衣的口袋上做皮革镶边设计也是个大胆之举。

受聘之后,戈塔尔迪与文斯·卡穆托的内部创意团队见了面,后者将照片、布料样品及其他物品集结成“灵感”板来传达该品牌当季大体的风格。去年秋季,在将那些理念转化为具体的服装之后,他将图样和样品交付给该团队报批——并且小心地提出每款设计只是他们艺术指导的产物。

他说:“那些服装100%都是我设计的,但是我从来都不会说‘我’,我总是说‘我们’。要让别人认可一样东西,最简单的方法是让他们也身涉其中。”

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