EXCLUSIVE: Richard Chai Womenswear A/W12

Dazed caught up with the NYC-designer before his show, styled by Dazed's Robbie Spencer, to discuss casting, consideration and character – the key ingredients of his romantic post-grunge offering

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Moody British Mods take to the stage this season at Richard Chai. Imagine being so lovesick that wherever you go you're wrapped in a blanket of crushed and bruised roses, The Smiths' 'How Soon Is Now?' playing a melancholy loop in your head. You manage to slip on a blazer and a pair of baggy pants, trudging down a forlorn street with a heart too full. It's half beautiful but it's hazy, you're austere but optimistic. You brush your hair to the side and march onwards, alone but in love and buttoned up against the elements. The night before Chai's NYC show, we popped into his studio to discuss the casting and styling process...

I think its been a real conscious decision each season to choose fresh, new faces along with our signature guys like Miles McMillan at DNA, David at Root and Wes at DNA

Dazed Digital: What was the casting process like for the show?
Richard Chai:
It always starts with a spirit and mood each season. It's about models that capture the right attitude. It starts with a dialogue early on between myself, [stylist] Robbie Spencer and Noah Shelley who casts my men's and women's show.

DD: Are there any new faces of note?
Richard Chai:
I think it's been a real conscious decision each season to choose fresh, new faces along with our signature guys like Miles McMillan at DNA, David at Root and Wes at DNA. Our signature girls are Alana and Hanne at Ford, Liu Wen at Marilyn and Sara Blomqvist at DNA. For new face women's I think Marie Piovesan at Marilyn, Lara Mullen at Ford and Marte at IMG are really striking. For mens, it's Arthur at VNY and Pascal B at REQuest.

This season is about a youthful play on uniforms and a spirit of nostalgia

DD: What's the look you're going for with this casting?
Richard Chai:
I feel like we've always made a strong point of truly finding models with character that are individuals. There needs to be something effortless about them and not a sense of traditional beauty.

DD: How does your collection reflect that?
Richard Chai:
I think there's something aspirational about the the looks – yet they're still approachable and believable. It's not about creating for the sake of a show. There's a real consideration to the overall look and feel of the collection, creating things that are desirable.

DD: How is it working with Robbie Spencer?
Richard Chai:
It's always amazing to have his perspective as he's coming in with a fresh eye. He's incredibly thoughtful and meticulous about the process. I think he always has such a strong point of view and really respects the working process. It's always about the quality of work with him which is so admirable.

DD: What kinds of styling references are you working with?
Richard Chai:
This season is about a youthful play on uniforms and a spirit of nostalgia.

DD: Who worked on your runway soundtrack?
Richard Chai:
Sebastien Perrin. I have worked with him for over 10 years and trust him completely – we've worked with each other for so long that all it takes is a few words and soundbytes. I've never met anyone who is an encyclopedia of music like him. He literally knows every track ever made.

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