Designer Interview: Spring and Clifton
My love affair with Spring & Clifton started years ago with a puff sleeve, heart patterned sweater hanging in a tiny boutique in Brooklyn. It was love at first sight. An instant connection. A love so strong that to this day...Spring & Clifton still holds a place of its own in my heart (and closet). We are so excited that designer Michelle Zacks agreed to participate in our interview series...

Paper-Doll: How did you get into fashion design?
Michelle Zacks: I grew up in California & dreamed of going to New York to work in fashion...I really just followed a dream & it led me here. I think I always knew from a young age that I was going to grow up and be a “Fashion Designer”. Ha! My mom said that even as a little girl I was extremely picky about what I wanted to wear. For example, she said I went through a long period where I would ONLY wear skirts- NO pants!

What is the first thing you designed?
Professionally...I got into the business slowly. I was making handmade t-shirts. They were under the label M.Z. They were re-worked tees that were cut & reassembled and embellished, etc, and I was taking them around to some of the cool spots in downtown New York & just seeing if the store owners wanted to carry them. They were interested - which was amazing! My first designs were in some amazing & pioneering New York stores like TG-170, Hedra Prue, Alife and Patricia Fields. The line grew organically from there.

What inspires you / your work?
Oh wow. I mean - everything?? The line between my work life & my “real life” is totally blurred, so pretty much anything I see or do or experience becomes an inspiration & ends up in the clothing somewhere.

Describe your Spring Summer 09 Collection.
I wanted it to be fun & colorful & light. It has a lot of the Spring & Clifton elements, that range from harder edges like grommets and lacing, to more girly touches, which I think come thru in the color palette and some of the ruffled pieces.
What is your favourite piece from your Spring Summer 09 Collection?
My personal favorite piece from this collection is the grommeted caftan

What is the most difficult thing about your job?
Reconciling the creative mind with the business mind. I think it’s a struggle that every designer faces. You have to be smart about it - not let it consume you but you can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. It does make the game more interesting ;)

If you could collaborate with any designer / artist / musician / etc. on a single project, who would it be and what would you do?
Hmmmmmm. This is a really interesting question. I was extremely lucky this past year - Urban Outfitters approached me to do a collaboration line with them. It’s been a fantastic experience! The line is called S Loves C by Spring & Clifton and it’s available exclusively at Urban Outfitters. So that’s actually a very cool collabo that actually has been realized.
What fashion era do you love? Is there one that you dislike?
I unabashedly love the 80s. I love the next, unknown era… I love to dream about the future of fashion. I can’t say there’s any era I dislike. I love all sorts of fashion for many different reasons.

Do you have a real or imaginary muse?
All my friends rolled up into 1 amazing girl. I’ve looked at different iconic women for various collections, but there’s not 1 muse that I refer to for every design...there’s a lot of crossover.

What fashion trend would you not be caught dead in?
I don’t like any clothing that overpowers the person - so anything that hides my personality instead of going hand in hand, is something I wouldn’t be comfortable in.

What is your favourite item in your personal wardrobe?
It changes. I keep a pile of clothes by my closet…those tend to be the items I’m wearing most at the moment. I just dig in the pile & make outfits :)
But I have a penchant for hoodies, anything with hearts (like a heart pendant I recently bought), a collection of weird black shoes, neon bright colored bras & undies, pyramid stud earrings and some threadbare vintage tees...
Where do you shop for clothes when you're not wearing your own?
I shop a lot on ebay. I like vintage. There’s also a store in New York called Some Odd Rubies that I’ve been visiting a lot lately. I like the vibe of that store

What is on your current fashion wishlist?
What isn’t on my current fashion wishlist? I want it all! (I’d be very, very happy with a Cartier Love bracelet).

What is your favourite thing about the city you live in? (New York)
My friends.

What is next for your label?
I’d like to evolve it into a full collection & bring in all kinds of fabrics, add accessories and things for the home. I look forward to that.

Visit: Spring & Clifton to view additional seasons & shopping links.

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