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Fashion Week Spotlight: Steven Alan on Fedoras and Skorts

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Each day throughout Fashion Week we'll be spotlighting one brand or designer whose pieces make up the bulk of our own closets—and we're guessing yours, too. We'll let you know what to expect to see in stores next season, plus where you can find them online right now—and, of course, any other gossip we took away from the shows.

As a person, Steven Alan is affable, straightforward, and down-to-earth. As a designer, he's pretty much the same. Starting out in retail, Steven took on his own line in 1999 and was pretty much an instant hit in both mens and womenswear. His garments are casual but perfected, simple but elegant, and, most of all, comfortable. One of the reasons we keep restocking our closets with his boyfriend shirts and smart dresses is because they feel like they were made to be lived in.

That vibe came across at today's presentation, the very first of the Fall/Winter 2012 Fashion Week shows, with models in casual-cool flats (a rare sight at Fashion Week, we assure you) and layers of accessible menswear-inspired basics. A palette of navy, grey, and olive was punctuated with subtle prints and stripes, and the occasional pop of red. (And if you don't have a felt fedora yet, ladies, you might want to consider one for next season.) We spoke with the designer about his inspiration, and the surprise piece of the collection: the skort.

Racked: Did you have a particular inspiration for the collection this season?
Steven Alan: I did. I was inspired by this Diego Rivera exhibit at the MoMA—the paintings and the canvases and the cements. We had an inspiration before we saw the exhibit, and then after we saw it we started pulling little bits of Mexico into what we do. You see it in the stripes and the blanket-type patterns. And then it was also with evening wear, and really doing a lot more with that.

R: You've said that you usually design menswear first and then women's emerges out of that. Was that the case this season?

SA: I used to always do that, but not so much this season. What I do always do is start with fabrics. We start pulling the fabrics before we do anything else.

Racked: A lot of your womenswear is based in menswear heritage. Do you have any tips for how women can wear menswear-inspired clothing and still feel feminine?
Steven Alan: I think it's really about wearing hard and soft together. A silk shirt with a canvas overcoat, for example. I always find that really feminine.

Racked: Can you tell us a little about this skort? We haven't seen one of those in a while.
Steven Alan: I always feel bad when I see girls wearing really short skirts, because I feel like there's something? they need to? you know. It was just that.

Racked: You guys launched handbags recently. How are accessories playing into the collection?
Steven Alan: I think they're very important to the collection. We did shoes last season, but we had some problems with our factory in Brazil, so we stopped that, but we're going to go back to it. For this collection we made our own belts, we made our own hats? they're very important.

You can find Steven Alan boutiques in New York and California, and online at StevenAlan.com.
· All Steven Alan coverage [Racked]
· Steven Alan [Official Site]