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Derek Lam Sits Down for a 10 Crosby Q&A, Reveals Everyday Inspiration and An Unexpected Digital Media Fascination

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Photos Via: Barneys New York

Wednesday evening, Barneys hosted cocktails in honor of Derek Lam's recent diffusion line 10 Crosby. Post drinks, Barneys Fashion Director Amanda Brooks moderated a Q&A in the Madison Avenue store's 8th floor Co-op, to which 10 Crosby's own resort line served as a backdrop.

During the interview, the always playful and eloquent designer dished on covert smoke breaks, words of wisdom from the greats, inspiration, love for the location of his headquarters (which, naturally, is 10 Crosby), and himself in female form. When the floor opened up to questions from attendees, Lam was one of the first to speak up, immediately questioning the crowd about digital media and commenter feedback. On our way out, we stopped to talk to the designer about just that, in which he told us: "There's something very honest that comes out when you don't have to divulge your identity." Trust, we know, firsthand.

Q: To start off, why did you create 10 Crosby?

A: Why did I create it? Because I wanted to design something that was going to be a challenge for me. I still think that designing my main collection has its challenges and its excitement, but this is doing something that is more accessible and has a new philosophy on how to integrate design and making it easy to have in life.

Q: And who's the woman that you had in mind while creating 10 Crosby? Was it multiple women, fictitious women? Who was the woman that you were inspired by?

A: I think one of the reasons why I use 10 Crosby as the label is literally, my office faces the street. Unfortunately, I still smoke. So on a cigarette break, I smoke inside, but I blow it out the window, and there are so many great moments with women just walking down the street. And, I'm like, she's super stylish and she's very inspiring. And, that's what I kind of used as inspiration.

Q: 10 Crosby is a downtown address. Is the 10 Crosby woman a downtown woman?

A: I think 10 Crosby, the address is just so unique. Crosby street is one of my favorite streets in all of New York City. It's got high fashion. It's got great furniture designers, great fashion designers—Joseph Altuzarra is just around the corner from me. Jill Sander has a store. The list can go on. It's a microcosm of something—something that's very special, very unique. It's really about great design. It's got that perfect mix that I think I love about New York.

Q: Was there some sort of cultural inspiration, a movie, a moment?

A: It was about my favorite fabrics, and favorite shapes and favorite colors. It's always great to start a new collection and incorporate a print that I've been thinking about for a long time, or the color yellow, which is one of my favorite colors, and just saying, "Let's just do it!" There is nobody coming back to you saying, oh it didn't sell last season, so you can't do that, or not a great idea. This collection was like, "Let's just do it, and have fun."

Q: How did you start this line?

Lam: How did we start? (Directed at 10 Crosby design director, Liz Giardina.)

Giardina: We looked at a lot of photos of the Mexican Architect, Luis Barragán. And that sort of started our color palette and our prints. We started with that grid print and that developed into the pajama and it was pretty organic.

Lam: He's like one of my favorite all-times. And, when she showed that to me, I was like, "Oh my god, simpatico!"

Q: I think one of the most interesting things about starting a collection from scratch is, you don't have an established costumer. You're not always thinking about what does the customer want from this collection, because you don't really know her yet. How do you formulate who the customer is?

A: Can I say that it's me as a feminine [form]? Truly, why I'm so excited about 10 Crosby—I'm so excited about it, because I feel like it's speaking to me as a consumer, and that's really important, and that's what kind of keeps me excited. For me it's not about following a specific style or a specific trend. It's more about how do I feel?

Q: You've been in the fashion industry for a very long time, and you've just been around these influential people. I'm just wondering is there any advice you've been given that stood out, or that you remember particularly?

A: The advice they give, which is the most beneficial, but is the most challenging is just, speak in your own voice. And, ultimately, that's why those people—why they're pertinent—is because they've found a voice. I think Anna [Wintour] has that down pat. And, she's a great example of that, and so does Michael [Kors]. Sometimes you can be easily swayed by thinking, what's happening in the world, what's new, I need to do something new. But, then you hear Anna's clipped English accent saying, (laughs) "But what are you about?"

· 10 Crosby [Derek Lam]