1. YOU HAVE BEEN TOUTED AS THE ‘PRINCE OF COLOR.’ WHAT CAN YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR LOVE AND INFUSION OF COLOR TO?
Having spent my childhood in the Pacific Northwest, most of the time everything was so grey and neutral. When the sun finally came out, it was like Dorothy arriving in Oz—the greenest greens and brightest blues were exposed. I think this really shaped my emotional connection with color, and an endless love for bright, askew combinations and palettes.
2. HOW DID YOU ACQUIRE AN INTERNSHIP AT MARC JACOBS? WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE THERE?
While I was at Parsons I had a very good friend who was moving to Paris, and I basically inherited his internship at Marc Jacobs. It was such a special experience amongst the most creative, generous team, and I learned so much ‘real world’ fashion while in school. I remember my first Marc Jacobs show in 2001 on the Pier, it was completely magical.
3. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT NEW YORK? WHAT DREW YOU TO THE BIG APPLE? HOW DOES IT INFLUENCE YOUR DESIGNS?
I am endlessly inspired by New York, the speed, creativity, and community. I spend so much time observing people on the street—there is so much visual stimulus and creativity all over the street it is hard not to be inspired from the second I leave my apartment each morning. I always wanted to move to New York, and when I arrived here with one suitcase when I was 17, I knew I had made the right decision.
4. DESCRIBE THE PERFECT MANHATTAN GIRL, THROUGH YOUR DESIGNER’S EYES?
I love that Annie Hall character, the New York girl that is a bit hardened but has humor always. An easy, effortless girl.
5. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOUR LIVELIHOOD AS AN AMERICAN DESIGNER FOR PEOPLE TO BUY LOCALLY MADE CLOTHES?
Almost all of our collection—both samples and production—is made within a two-block radius of our design studio in the Garment District. It is such a wonderful thing to have a connection to the seamstresses and factory owners and like- wise the ability to have a strong control over the quality and handiwork of our garments.
6. WHAT IS NEXT FOR CHRIS BENZ, AND WHAT DO YOU ULTIMATELY WISH TO ACHIEVE WITH YOUR LABEL?
With each season we hone on what represents the Chris Benz woman—the American eclectic, colorful wanderer, and everything that she’s surrounded by in her world. I don’t think there’s any discipline of design that we don’t aspire to envelop our woman with.
QUICK RANDOM ONES
FAVORITE DESIGNER OF THE MOMENT?
MOST CHERISHED LOCATION IN MANHATTAN?
BEST COCKTAIL BAR IN NEW YORK?
Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle.
WHICH CELEBRITY (LIVING OR DEAD) WOULD YOU HAVE WEAR YOUR CREATIONS?