IN Interviews : Kara Laricks
Where are you from? I was born in Virginia, grew up in Kansas, lived in San Francisco for 6 years, and now reside in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
What is the meaning behind Collar, Stand + Tie? The collar, stand (pattern piece which connects the collar to a men’s dress shirt), and tie are my three favorite traditional menswear elements. Added together, they make up my unique accessory - Collar, Stand + Tie. As much as I love menswear, I also have an affinity for the more avant garde Japanese aesthetic, and to me, Collar, Stand + Tie represents simplicity, while the actual accessory is anything but… On a more personal note, the name Collar, Stand + Tie represents me as a designer – I relish a logical, organized process, geometric cutting techniques (the right angles of the plus sign are no accident) and in my former career as an elementary school teacher, math was my favorite subject to teach.
What/who are your biggest influences as a designer? I am influenced by anything that makes me look or think twice. Canadian artist Marcel Dzama, Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies, a witty play on words, the children’s book Zoom - all influence my design sensibility. I love when my perceptions are challenged – a feminine girl in a flirty dress and a masculine boy in a one-button suit, I understand, but there is something intriguing about an androgynous person that challenges and inspires me to create pieces that can be worn by a man or a woman – or any classification in between.
What are your beliefs about fashion design and principles that are communicated through your garments? I am a strong believer in conceptual design and I think that (at least for me) the most successful design results when the inspiration is very personal. I had the good fortune of showing a small collection in the Bryant Park tents at the end of my master’s program in fashion design. My inspiration? The “box” I felt I was kept in as a closeted lesbian elementary school teacher combined with the experimental route my life was taking as a fashion designer. How did this play out in actual garments? I used right angles (symbolizing “the box”) in my pattern cutting + experimental draping techniques (symbolizing my new direction) to create my collection. And, of course, my love of menswear was represented in my fabric choices and the Collar, Stand + Tie detailing.
When did you first come to the realization that you wanted to be a designer? I have always loved to design, regardless of the capacity – organizing my closet by color and garment as a kid, designing over-the-top bulletin boards as a teacher, arranging and rearranging furniture to make my San Francisco/NYC apartment look bigger…
What magazines, blogs, designer/artists inspire you? Where to begin? The design aesthetic of Yohji Yamamoto, his daughter Limi and Yves Saint Laurent, the spirit of the Antwerp Six, the vision of Rei Kawakubo and Alexander McQueen, the realistic representation of life captured by Annie Leibovitz, the delicate and detailed “creepiness” of marionette-maker Erik Sanko, the androgyny of Ellen, David Bowie, Marlene Dietrich, Diane Keaton in Annie Hall…I could go on and on. I really like the magazine “Purple,” and recently, I have been reading Tavi’s blog – she reminds me of several of my favorite students back when I was teaching!
What are your hardest obstacles when creating work? Unfortunately, I am NOT a photographer, graphic designer, web designer, public relations person or a line rep, and it takes all of these roles to really launch a line successfully. I may have truly original designs that many people would be interested in wearing, but until I can “get the word out” through a website or representation in boutiques/media, it’s just my designs and me. So, thank you for this interview opportunity, and if anyone out there is interested in the above listed positions…
How do you feel about the current state of the fashion industry and what is your part in it? I am optimistic. Because of current economic hardships, I think all industries are considering how to best move forward, which opens the door for creative ideas that may have been squashed in better times. Personally, I am starting small with my ties, which represent the foundation of who I am as a designer. In this economy, buying a Collar, Stand + Tie is a realistic way to “spice up” any t-shirt, vest, blazer, etc., making the wearer feel fresh and fashionable without feeling fresh out of cash. My hope is to build not only a following, but a solid foundation so that one day, that ready-to-wear line that I dream of can become a reality.
What are your plans for the future (any things, store location, shows) ? My immediate plans are to fulfill my “word of mouth” orders for my ties. The next order of business is to get my website up and running, so that you, too, can order your very own Collar, Stand + Tie!
-- * Special thanks to Kara Laricks. Interview by James Buford and edited by Alicia Fairclough for Infashuated © 2011. No part of this content or information included therein may be reproduced, republished or redistributed without the prior consent of Infashuated.