simon miller ss17 collection merges classic american denim and japanese construction
The American South meets the Japanese mountains through cool denim washes and rocky textures at NYFW.
Simon Miller has visibly shifted as a brand since the eponymous designer left his purist denim label in 2011. Fast-forward to last night's spring/summer 17 presentation in the East Village, where young creative directors Daniel Corrigan and Chelsea Hansford showed beautifully crafted leather and denim jackets, dresses, and thigh-high boots inside the gated New York Marble Cemetery. Bright spotlights cast models' shadows on a backdrop of cold marble, and French band 1982Paris's haunting vocals and reverberating drums filled the cemetery, which was buzzing with cocktail-drinking attendees — surely an unusual spectacle for the space.
The collection, according to Corrigan, emerged from the colors and textures of mountainous Japan. During a visit to Japan, he said, "We took a five-hour train ride up to Yamagata and it was through these crazy forests, and these wild, mossy fields, so that was the initial inspiration for the color palette. It's really rich olives and greens." Corrigan said that color is always the first consideration in his and Hansford's designs. "When we build a collection, it's always starting out with what we want the color palette to be, and then growing it from there. It's a lot of textures — one of the last things we actually do is design the silhouettes."
It was in the silhouettes, however, that you got the best sense of Simon Miller's merging of the landscape of the American South, with its love for denim, and the designers' appreciation for Japanese aesthetics. The jewelry - primarily glimmering circular earrings — came from Rebecca Pinto, who Corrigan described as simply "insane," hand-picking her pearls from the South Pacific sea. The shoes — notably chunky clog-esque boots that reached so high they often disappeared into skirts and dresses — and the totes and miniature bucket bags were created with Italian craftsman Reinhard Plank, who the pair also discovered in Japan.
The final step in creating the SS17 collection was determining the location of the presentation. Corrigan said, "We always try to find more obscure spots. Last season, we did a carpet store and carpet showroom. It's always about finding obscure spaces that really resonate with the collection." Motioning around to the eerie setting and models perched each on their own set of marble bricks, he continued, "Here, with all the marble, we pulled so much texture inspiration from the rocks, so we saw the space and we were like, we have to do it here." The cemetery indeed wove together the pale intensity of the collection's rocky textures and the lushness and greenness of its Yamagata colors.
Text Blair Cannon
Photos courtesy of Tommy Ton