Fashion designer Andrew Gn visited Chicago for the first time Friday, and brought with him his spring/summer 2011 collection for an exclusive trunk show at Neapolitan. Gn is a Singapore-born designer based in Paris, and is known for his elegant pieces with intricate detail. Recent celebrity clients include Jennifer Lopez, Hilary Swank, Beyoncé Knowles and Penelope Cruz. The trunk show, which featured looks from the collection, was an opportunity for local admirers and shoppers to meet the designer and purchase pieces from the collection. Patch Editor Sara Fay sat down with Gn for an interview at the boutique about his collection, Frank Lloyd Wright, the escapism of the 70's, and his first impressions of Chicago.
Patch: So this is your first visit to Chicago -- what has struck you most about what you've seen of the city?
Andrew Gn: The drive up here was amazing because last night, it was dark and this morning was a symphony of reds and tangerines, these wonderful maple trees. It was just gorgeous. It's such a beautiful area and I said, "I could live here." It's my virgin visit. The beautiful collections of art deco buildings, and I was so looking forward to this trip because I might be inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright for my coming collections. The colors of Winnetka -- it's just beautiful, so nice and so gentil. It's not as hectic as New York. It's a lovely place, the people are less stressful and the people are much nicer. People are very well styled too.
Patch: That's a nice compliment. What have you seen people wearing?
AG: Kelly [Golden, owner of Neapolitan] threw a dinner in my honor at a home in Winnetka last night, and a lot of ladies were invited. It was such great fun. It's the first time I've been here to do this trunk [show], and it is interesting for me always to see, who are the women wearing my clothes. Neapolitan was one of the first carriers in the states and we've been working with them forever, since the very beginning of my career. Kelly has grown this wonderful business for me and I love seeing all these women. It's really satisfying because they all turn up in Andrew Gn from various seasons. It's almost like a retrospective.
Patch: You've brought your spring/summer collection with you for this show, and though temperatures are about to drop for winter, there's been a lot of interest in this collection for you.
AG: Yes. Concerning the weather, it's been quite warm and so people have been pre-shopping, and that's good for us. I'm flattered because I think a lot of women have changed their buying habits these days. They seem to shop for winter when it gets cold whereas before, in most cities, a woman would buy a fur coat in June thinking she would wear it in December. Now people start shopping for autumn when it gets cold, which is normal. I can understand that. In a way, it's more European as well because the season starts later.
Patch: Tell me about your spring/summer collection for 2011.
AG: You see all the red and coral. It's kind of been my signature. I did my first coral collection, I call it the "Finding Nemo" collection [in 2005], but officially it's inspired by Tony Duquette and I brought it back for resort. It's sort of very 60's-ish, sharp, a crisp feeling to it, and when it goes into runway, it's a full early-70's bohemian revival. That's one of the major trends of the season. It's interesting – the 70's comes back every 7-8 years because in a way, it represents escapism and also joy.
Patch: In many ways, the 70's are an idealized decade. What else inspired the collection?
AG: Yes. Everything is, in a way. That's what fashion should be. That's one of the major trends of the season -- the arrival of feminine, and the 70's. So it was inspired by, about six months ago, I was at Portobello Market in London and I saw this beautiful girl, strawberry blonde hair, swooping past in a purple maxi dress and she walked so fast, you just saw this purple silhouette, and I thought, we haven't seen that in a long time and I want to do that. I also found a beautiful white dress for a little girl from the early 20th Century done in beautiful white lace with inset lace, and that was a starting point for the collection. Early 70's escapism, bohemian, but all done in a very luxurious way.
Patch: You're in Chicago for a few days. What are your plans?
AG: We're going to go out to all the good restaurants. I'm going to the Art Institute [of Chicago], because I also have a great passion for art collecting. I want to do the architectural boat tour. Michigan Avenue is just lovely, the big buildings, and you have the best of both sides. You have that, and you have beautiful Winnetka. I know I will love it. It's a really dynamic city.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.