A starting point from menswear gives Chai a cosy refinement to his layered aesthetic
Richard Chai has been concentrating on proposing a consistent method of dressing for the past few seasons with his 'Love' collections, rather than flitting from trend to trend and pulling from any literal reference points. The girl as expressed through the effortlessly layered looks shown yesterday and in previous seasons has lived through the grunge era to take away the nonchalance and don't-give-a-fuck attitude of the genre and adding a feeling of polish through the fabrics as well as the well-proportioned layers that are anything but messy.
For A/W11 this continued and manifested itself in cosy solutions that bore roots in looking at menswear pieces but also gave way to touches of femininity seen in a shimmer of palettes on a sheer long sleeved top or an iris-print chiffon that swept into grey jersey maxi dresses. The mainstay of the collection was dominated by mannish trousers, wrap coats and jackets, pleated long skirts and hooded sleeveless gilets in tones of charcoal and taupe, that were the building blocks of another lesson in layering that Chai is so adept at.
Dazed Digital: What was the starting point for the collection?
Richard Chai: We started looking at menswear at the beginning of the collection and it was about the real individuality of the girl. The last fall collection was inspired by the girls that I went to art school with. Spring was a starker and purer collection so it was this idea of those two collections coming together and that girl growing up and seeing her now. It was also about pushing this idea of layering and making it nonchalant and effortless.
DD: You've developed a particular language when it comes to layering -how do you tweak it each season to make it feel different?
Richard Chai: It's just about proportion and silhouette and use of materials. The beginning of this collection was quite dark in colour - charcoals, black, shades of grey. One aspect of it was the textiles and another was the way the clothes were cut like the way the leather jackets were a bit boxy.
DD: Tell us a little bit about the varying stages of the collection.
Richard Chai: I love the idea of the greys at the beginning, then it became a little more stripped away, a little more sporty and stark. In the end, it was more bare, with cardigans falling off, little camisole bits, quirky lingerie inspired dresses. It's a challenge for me to play with contrasts and mess around with things that don't really go together.