Fashion / Style File

Hot Designer Adam Lippes Discovers the Joys of Fashion with Texas Help

The New Oscar?

BY // 09.23.19

NEW YORK — Like every designer, Adam Lippes creates a mood board to serve as inspiration for his latest collection. This time he and his team were attracted to the early work of abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler, the gardens of British designer Ben Pentreath, and Wedgwood’s Fairyland Lustre china.

“But really, we looked at it and it was just joy. I wanted color, fun and volume. Fun. Joy. Fun. And so that’s where we wound up,” he explains during a presentation of his spring 2020 collection at New York Fashion Week.

Lippes believes in the visceral power of clothing to elicit a range of positive emotions. He knows that his customer will be excited over a pair of bold green slacks, a “fire red” skirt with a ruffled hemline, a shimmering purple sequined sheath dress, or a billowing sunshine yellow gown with lots of volume — “what we call movement and bounce,” he says.

“We design for the woman who buys our clothes,” he adds. “They’re not fancy clothing.”

The collection, which was displayed in a stripped-down space with exposed brick walls in a historic downtown Manhattan office tower that will soon become his offices, already has several of his clients vying to place an order for a particular item or several.

“My girlfriends, both in New York and Houston, were sort of fighting over which one was going to order that one,” says Courtney Lanier Sarofim, pointing to a sun-bleached denim dress with a scoop neckline and brass buttons and a delicate black lace dress with bell sleeves.

“That lace dress is timeless. You would never get rid of that. You could wear that for 15 years.”

Sarofim and her friends also lusted over a sleeveless white gown with hand-embroidered translucent red sequins in patterns created by Italian artist and ceramicist Costanza Paravicini in a pattern reminiscent of the Wedgwood Fairytale Lustre patterns.

Adam Lippes spring 2020 collection at New York Fashion Week
Adam Lippes lilac Merino knit sweater with Chantilly lace sleeves and fire red silk faille skirt, red lambskin ankle wrap heel. (Photo courtesy of Adam Lippes)

Sarofim and Aliyya Stude were among the Houstonians who came to New York to support Lippes. Sarofim originally met Lippes through her sister-in-law, Allison Sarofim, and became close friends with the designer. She and her husband, Christopher Sarofim, have become investors in Lippes’ fashion business.

“Fashion was not something that Christopher and I had ever invested in before but we want to invest in Adam. He’s got the most incredible work ethic with his sensibility and his approach to everything. We’ve had a lot of fun. He’s one of my dearest friends,” Courtney Lanier Sarofim says.

“Adam is a kind and very intelligent person and he understands the way that women want to dress. I know that streetwear is a huge trend and I do get it, but Adam really gets it and gives us something edgy and great but that we can wear. We can wear to work, we can wear to a party. And he uses the most incredible fabrications.”

Lippes began his fashion career at Ralph Lauren in 1995 before moving to Oscar de la Renta, where he served as a Global Creative Director and worked closed with de la Renta from 1996-2003.

Sarofirm says she sees a lot of the de la Renta influence in Lippes’ current line.

“It’s sort of like he’s this intellectual, modern interpretation of Oscar, which we all used to wear like crazy. You would put an Oscar dress on and you feel fantastic,” she notes.

In 2004, Lippes created a contemporary clothing line, Adam + Eve (subsequently called simply Adam) and achieved a level of “Oprah” fame after Oprah Winfrey named a T-shirt he created as one of her “Favorite Things.” Seven years later, he sold the brand and took a year off, traveling to India and South America and spending time at his farm in the Berkshires, to reflect and recharge. In 2013, he founded his namesake clothing label, specializing in understated and luxurious designer sportswear, and continues to expand his business.

“Everything comes full circle,” he says.

Also new this season for Lippes is a shoe collection created with Italian footwear maker Sergio Rossi that could be wildly popular. During the presentation, it was hard to your eyes off of the mid-calf boots covered with lilac fringe, floral jacquard pumps, and ankle wrap heels in red lambskin or polka dots.

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - On The Runway Spring 2020
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