Who has the charm and grace of Billie Burke, the school boy looks of Prince Harry (but far better manners), can make work feel like a Sunday picnic (cocktails and lemonade included), has interior decor skills on par with Oliver Smith, and can make a fur stole worthy of Johnny Weir out of Ikea carpeting? Well, it’s Chris Benz of course!
Q: What are some adjectives or metaphors that best reflect your personal style?
A: I like reckless preppy…that’s something we always talk about, perfect imperfection… and casual elegance. It’s very Art School.
Q: When in your life did you land on the style you express now?
A: I think in the 7th grade all the stars aligned and I found out that I loved fashion. I would take this white t-shirt under that navy blue sweater with just the edge of the collar poking out… All of a sudden I realized I could layer things, it was like magic.
Q: Is there a recent fashion trend that you find particularly compelling, that perhaps is not just the look of the week?
A: The idea of dressing up again feels right. Very Lady, a full skirt and a very structured bodice. I think it’s a reaction to long droopy tank tops and sweat pants. You know, we love to dress up.
Q: What defines good taste in fashion? How much should one’s taste be a nod to past style greats, and how much should be pure originality? Is there such thing as pure originality?
A: Personal style really should be a synthesis of your personality and the clothes you wear should reflect that. If you’re personality is severe, then your clothes should speak to that. I feel like the people who are successful with personal style tap into their milieu of personal history.
When you see people who are purely original, who don’t work within the confines of the current social temperature, they feel out of touch with what’s going on. So ideally being original in reinterpreting the current trends in a personal way is the goal.
Q: What are your inspirations for the Chris Benz collections? I see a nod to vintage styles in many of your pieces.
A: I think it’s important to take the sensibility of different time periods of the past and reinterpret them in new fabric, color, texture and proportions. There’s something very real about nostalgia and comfort and if you can offer people something they remember, understand, and relate to, then it can be reworked it into current wardrobes.
Q: What has been the single worst style trend in your lifetime?
A: I don’t like things that feel inauthentic, any trends that highlight an artifice in any way. For instance, leggings that look like jeans just feel like reality tv. I don’t generally like stretch fabrics at all because they feel like you’re trying to trick someone.
Q: What do you wish would come back from fashion history?
A: I love the anything thats athletic oriented, 1970′s basketball uniforms with the short shorts and high socks. But anything that was really hot and then went away. Like a kaftan, people don’t wear kaftans now, but they should and at one time everyone wore them. And I’m glad the platform shoe is back. They were completely missing all throughout (my) high school years, I’m glad they’re back.
Q: What piece of advice would you give the style challengers? Or anyone who is trying to get dressed, really?
A: I feel like the (LBD) dress represents what we do in our (Chris Benz) collection, one basic to complete your outfit. Put an outfit that your comfortable in and looks put together, then you’ve solved the problem. Build your look based on something really simple, and you’ve achieved the goal.