Creatures of Comfort's last collection was inspired by the glamour of women in vintage Capri vacation photos. This year, designer Jade Lai envisioned her collection to fit the mission of an adventurous woman's life. She wanted to dress a pioneering lady who will go by herself to the frontiers of the map, under the hot and dry sun, to dedicate herself to her art, to her love, or both. We dropped by Jade's studio to gather five items she got her inspiration from.
How do these two vintage pieces relate to your collection?
Jade: Basically this spring collection is initially inspired by Agnes Martin and her landscape paintings, so a lot of the color palette is inspired by her muted toned colors and pastels and delicate fine line and small grid patterns. I started to think about when kind of woman she was, the way she abandoned the life in the city life and went off into the wild. I think of this very worldly woman who is looking for the new frontier. There’s a lot of materiality — women with their long coats; a turn of the century trench coat, linens and that conductor jacket, the details … all of this I imagine an adventurous person having with them, traveling away.
Was she actually wearing these kinds of clothes?
She went West in the late ’60s, ’70s, so this is before her. I didn’t take it so literally, it’s just about a woman who likes adventure.
Artist Miles Houston produced some thin totem poles for the show last week. What did you ask him to do?
Basically I gave him the idea of the collection; when we met I showed him the inspiration board, and he liked the idea of going into a place and not being a tourist. He was talking about colonization, going native, and the culture clash. It’s a subtler mentality. I was also thinking a lot about safaris, and I wanted to use mosquito netting, so we were trying to figure out how we could incorporate structure into mosquito netting to give that idea of outdoors or primitive. I also really like that the totem poles he made looked very much like necklaces to me.
What about this shoe?
It’s a vintage shoe that I found. I’m trying to figure out a way to modernize something that’s very traditional and make it something else. It’s an old Chinese espadrille.
Tell us about these photos
This is Karen Blixen, who wrote Out of Africa, this is an iconic still shot from the movie of Meryl Streep playing a Dutch woman who bought a plantation in Kenya. She was trying to start a new life and adapt to the culture there.
And then these are just color palette inspirations of Elvis being in the wild [laugh]. This is kind of “the lifestyle.” It’s what I imagine life is like — you don’t go camping but you bring a lot of baggage and these luxurious tents. You bring your culture there; it’s a mash-up of cultures. And then this is young Dali and his wife Gaia.
What about this strange hat.
This hat I’ve had for a long time. I collect weird hats. It blends well this collection in the sense that it’s vintage and also had a weird proportion where it’s very finely made but then also you can’t tell what the purpose is for it. It makes you question what the reality of your situation is. I’m just so attracted to this unconventional proportion of this hat.