An Interview with Chris Benz: Bill Blass and Beyond

Categories:Other Brands

An Interview with Chris Benz

When it was revealed last year that Chris Benz, he of the neon mesh details, gutsy tropical prints, and skewed ladylike designs (he launched his own line when he was just 25 years old in 2007, and it lived for five years), was taking the helm at Bill Blass, it came as something of a surprise. But then again, who better to revive the all-American sportswear label than the Seattle native, who could make sequins feel streetwise and ruffles feel anything but retro? We got the honor of interviewing Chris, right in time for the release of the Spring collection, featuring breezy shopper totes and sporty duffels, easy slip-on sneakers, and lots more to covet in a perky citrus palette.

Take us through your day!
Well, I have quite the routine these days – living out in the glamorous part of Brooklyn and driving everywhere means I’m living my LA lifestyle right here in NYC. I get up at 6 everyday (I’m a morning person, so I like to have The Today Show on while I’m getting ready, making coffee, letting the dog out, etc.). I drive into Manhattan to the Bill Blass office every day, park, drop the dog off at daycare, and finally backflip into my chair by 9 am. Each day is different, and I’m pulled in lots of different directions – which is where being a decisive Virgo comes in handy. Oftentimes, we only have a few moments to make design decisions! Between design meetings with each department (we have two: one for handbags and the other for ready-to-wear and shoes), board meetings, interviews, and appointments, it’s a daily press right up to 6 pm. After work, unless I’m screening a film or rolling through an event of some sort, it’s my whole morning routine in reverse. I’ve automated as much as possible so that there’s extra time to Instagram!

An Interview with Chris Benz

Lola Large Duffle

You started your namesake line when you were just 25. In what ways has building a business like that from the ground up been beneficial experience for your new role at Bill Blass?
I have always had a low-grade panic that I wanted to do things sooner rather than later – so the idea of launching my own little collection was important to me early on, and I’m very happy I did it while still somewhat naive. I really learned how to do every part of the fashion business on my own, and that in and of itself is a tremendous asset in my newest role at Bill Blass. As Creative Director, I really have to understand what each person’s duties are and be able to synthesize everything together like an orchestra.

You’ve said before that “having to churn out hundreds of new products every few months from scratch” was the hardest part of working at your former company, a sentiment that many designers have brought forth recently. How many pieces are you responsible for producing now?
For Bill Blass, we are on an ongoing design schedule, such that we’re somewhat autonomous and less tied to the schedule than in my past experience. We really only make what we feel strongest about, rather than produce a lot of “filler” product like more traditional businesses do that are expected to fill a runway and merchandise seemingly more “commercial” elements into their collections. We have around 50 styles across ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes, and accessories, which is really quite small in the grand scope of the industry. We like lots of different colors in a few dazzling styles.

An Interview with Chris Benz

Sutton Slip-On Shoe

What have you implemented at Bill Blass already that you’re proud of?
I am in awe of the scale and amount of work we have been able to achieve in only one year; when I started there were no employees – none! We built the team, designed and produced a fantastic line, and established the new voice of the brand through e-commerce and all that goes with it – packaging, user experience, visual elements, innovative interface – but still maintained the spirit of what has made the brand resonate with customers since 1970.

An Interview with Chris Benz

Lola Small Duffle

The new BB logo is borrowed from Mr. Blass’ stationary. In what other ways have you incorporated him or the classic elements of his brand?
I am constantly, fanatically referencing the archive – it’s everything you can imagine, from the smallest detail like a mother-of-pearl button to the cutaway on a jacket, to an actual silhouette. I’m very conscious about not simply remaking old styles from the past, but giving a strong wink behind us with every piece we design.

Who is today’s Bill Blass customer?
The Bill Blass woman of today is independent, mobile, tech-forward, and very busy (I realize these are descriptions of most women today). But in the same way that Bill Blass was a mirror to a generation of women in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the Bill Blass of today is a reflection of what women wear, carry, and have an appetite for today. I always imagine our customer shopping from her phone in the back of an Uber or before a plane takes off. She’s on the go.

An Interview with Chris BenzSutton Embellished Slip-On Shoe

What is the Bill Blass bag every Bag Snob should own?
Our Buckley Shopper Tote is THE BAG to own. I even carry one every day; it’s the most delicious tumbled calf leather, perfectly constructed and in perfect proportions. Beyond. We deliver new colors all the time, and it is timeless, utilitarian, and elegant.

An Interview with Chris Benz

Buckley Shopper 

What do you see as the largest challenge facing you as Creative Director now?
I think the largest challenge for me, as with most retailers today, is simply keeping the brand top of mind. Fashion is such a crowded environment, which is really dictated more than ever by the consumer. I just keep the consumer in my sights and forge ahead. We have a burgeoning social media presence, which is very fun and a tremendous vehicle for the brand to complement our e-commerce footprint, and likewise with all of our chic, glamorous brand loyalists around the world. We ship to almost 70 countries worldwide, so it’s quite a lot of ground to cover!

Tags: Louis Vuitton bag Mini PONT-NEUF

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Jimmy Choo Spring Summer 2016 Campaign

Categories:Designer Shoes

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Jimmy Choo SS16 Men’s & Women’s Campaign

Here is the brand new Jimmy Choo Spring Summer 2016 women’s ad campaign, showcasing the designers new shoes and accessories. Using statement graphics of palm trees which meld with bold architectural gestures to create a gorgeous new SS16 collection. One that’s so beautiful and gorgeous, every woman will want these shoes!

‘I wanted to convey an upbeat attitude whilst juxtaposing new with old – artisanal vintage references blended with bold, graphic architectural details – to create something modern and surprising.’  said Sandra Choi, Creative Director.

The advertising campaign was shot by photographer Cass Bird and stars Danish model Nadja Bender alongside American model David Alexander Flinn, both making a great team for the shoot. Nadja models some of the most stunning designs for the new season, including long flat boots, strappy sandals, colour block heels, Western inspired boots and more! There’s something for everyone here and if you are a fan of Jimmy Choo like I am, I know you will love this collection.

Shop the SS16 Women’s Jimmy Choo collection online here.

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Here we can look at the Jimmy Choo SS16 men’s ad campaign, taking smart and making it casual. Jimmy Choo stated that the codes of formal meld with the functionality of sports to create a seamlessly modern new SS16 collection. One that’s absolutely perfect for most fashionable men today!

‘The man of today – the man I see on the street – is a liberated man of action. He’s a gentleman of our time who is clued-up about the codes of the past, but is by no means bound by them. The fault lines that used to run between the formal and the informal, the sartorial and the sporting, or the technical and the extrovert are rapidly fading. The only rule that counts now is that when you choose what to wear today, it has to be both fit for purpose and a true expression of your personality.’  said Sandra Choi, Creative Director.

In the campaign for the guys, you can see some fantastic new loafers, brogues, lace ups and boots as well as a smarter take on the slip on sneaker. Styling these shoes with structured and tailored suits really gives a modern and fresh take on formal wear, making it easier to style and more comfortable to wear. Let us here at Fashion Runway Blog know what you think of the Jimmy Choo SS16 campaign! You can check out the rest of the photos in the gallery below.

Tags: Louis Vuitton bag Empreinte PONT-NEUF

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