Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shərt\ a : a cloth garment usually having a collar, sleeves, a front opening, and a tail long enough to be tucked inside trousers or a skirt

On my very first visit to Delhi I remember sitting in the back of the taxi trying to take it all in and what I remembered the most was that all the men rushing around the crowded streets were wearing dress shirts. All of them, not a polo or a tee shirt, no tunics or tanks, just collard, long sleeved button front shirts. I was amazed at how easily this article of clothing could be a uniform for an entire city.

During another taxi ride here in New York I remember asking my then boss to look out the window and see how many women were wearing a woven shirt. The answer was none after a 10 minute ride from Gramercy Park to the Garment District she had not spotted a single woman in a woven shirt. The fantasy of this girl in her boyfriend’s shirt did not exist. Even with iconic moments like Sharon Stone at the 1998 oscars in a Gap shirt or Lauren Hutton elegantly placed inside the ease of loose fitting dress shirt in the 70’s it never could compete with the popularity of the tee shirt.

I’ve always had an affinity for the dress shirt and certainly am not one to wear a tee shirt. Maybe it was 12 years of private school that did it or the fact that no matter what else you were wearing it added a bit of “finish” to the look. So naturally after launching my then dress collection the first shirt I made was a dress shirt called Xavier (after the school). Over the seasons we have made the Xavier in everything from cotton doby to denim and most recently leather. I love how this classic basic shirt with a few details can represent such style. A rolled up sleeve and unbuttoned collar versus the buttoned to the top cuffed sleeve are worlds apart in terms of style but both come from the same shirt.

The dress shirt, blue – collar or white collar is probably my single most favorite article of clothing. Play with one this spring, see how it takes on your personality and your style. Tied at the waist in denim like Jennifer Lawrence in the May issue of Teen Vogue or all buttoned up like Rashida Jones in Lucky, ultimately the right one for you is out there.

bright turquoise blue on the streets of Delhi


printed & layered in Delhi

Sharon Stone in Gap shirt & Vera Wang skirt

Lauren Hutton

Diane Keaton

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

Ricky Lauren

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

Diana Vreeland

Mary Kate Steinmiller

Madeline Andrews Escudero

Dallin Chase spring 2009

Dallin Chase fall 2010

Rashida Jones Lucky Magazine

Jennifer Lawrence Teen Vogue

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fa-brik\ b : underlying structure

Many years ago in Paris while shopping Première VisionI found myself next to an editor I recognized from New York. She was asking questions about the new fabrics being presented and I wondered what she was doing there. I introduced myself and learned that she was the textile fashion editor for WWD and a who’s who in the textile world. Everyone from couture mills like Jakob Schlaepfer and Abraham to Gentili Mosconi knew her and gushed at the mere mention of her name. From that day on, our mutual interest in fabrics and design turned into a friendship.

Daniela has a discerning style that is never forced or trendy. Each time we met, the detail on a coat or the tailoring of a pant left me wondering, where she got that. Sometimes they were one-offs she found shopping a friend's sample sale. Others items like a vintage YSL baseball jacket in the most gorgeous mohair/wool blend were from her mother’s closet. No matter the designer, it never reflected them, but rather her.

Many years later I shared with Daniela that I was planning on starting my own collection. Her enthusiasm and support were priceless. She asked questions that helped me understand what Dallin Chase was supposed to be and wove her way into what has become the underlying structure of what Dallin Chase is. We were at Bergdorf Goodman and she turned to me and said “what you are describing is comfort without looking casual”. The idea that the dresses I wanted to create would be comfortable but not casual crystallized and became the cornerstone of what I set out to do with my collection. Sure enough the best selling dress in my first collection was the “Dani”, a color blocked jersey dress with pockets and a triangle bodice. 

Since then, Daniela has moved on to work for many of the most impressive creators in New York fashion: DVF, Ralph Rucci, Isaac Mizrahi and now, Narciso Rodriguez. Contributing her knowledge of fabric and design in a way other than as a journalist has been exciting to see. Even with the change in career, her style is consistent. She plays with classic proportions that she tailors to match the season or current look and makes it her own. Signatures from the pulled back chignon and her piercing green eyes to the antique three diamond ring on her right hand seem to outdo any of the impeccable coats that top her shoulders in the winter. Daniela understands who she is and who she wants to be and with that, has inspired in me the woman I want to design for. 

Daniela visiting the Dallin Chase showroom to share some vintage fabric swatches and inspiration for next season.  Sweater, Dallin Chase 2010; necklace, J-crew

Daniela's Cuban grandmother's three diamond right hand ring

swatches from Daniela's archive from the last 15 years

more swatches

Daniela's mother's vintage Gucci bag, vintage embroidered beaded evening purse, vintage antique tortoise monogram card holder.

beautiful colors and embroidery, mixed with the gold & natural cut turquoise stones

vintage chain mail coin purse with Daniela's initals

Daniela shares an old National Geographic tear

Daniela's Barney's Coop sunglasses rest atop glittery, sparkling fabrics and a sequin spangled scarf by Jakob Schlaepfer.

Daniela's menswear military coat and Chloe purse

Monday, March 14, 2011

In-ˌflü-ən(t)s 3 a : the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command

On a recent afternoon at my mom’s place I noticed a picture that I had seen easily a 100,000 times in my life. It is one that you glance at, know what the gist of the image is but never pay too much attention to. Well this recent glance brought about a catharsis that had been bugging me for weeks. Our new sales director brought to my attention that I use stripes too often. It has happened that in nearly every collection I have designed the stripe has found its way into the story. It is never on the mood board or even something I seek out when researching new fabrics. But by the end of sampling the collection there it is, be it a knit top or crinkled Lurex seersucker. So as I sat there starring at this photo of my mother and two of her sisters I had a flash of all the images I remembered where a striped shirt played a silent role in the memory.

This blog has become a sort of outlet for me as I create the collection. Inspiration comes and changes and evolves over the six months it takes to finally present the clothes. In the end it usually gets distilled into a couple of cliché sentences and voila the season is here. What I realized as I looked at this picture was that without knowing it I have collected images, ideas and references that I never intended to use as inspiration. It’s not a visit to a museum or new song playing on the radio that influences what I make. Inspiration comes with everything and anything that I have experienced. Without knowing exactly what will inspire the next Dallin Chase collection I am simply left to edit and navigate through tangible and subliminal references and ultimately create something that is as much a piece of me as it is piece of striped jersey. 

spring 2007
spring 2008
fall 2008
spring 2009

fall 2010

spring 2011

spring 2011

spring 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Stī(-ə)l\ 2 a : a distinctive manner of expression

Stylist Carmen Lilly visited the showroom and with her brought a gaggle of style references. From her tall curly hair to her studded Miu Miu platforms Carmen works collected pieces in a way that is confident, eclectic and exciting.

Carmen interned for me many years ago at Alice Roi. Instantly commanding attention her questions and interest in the industry was inspiring. It was clear that her ambition would guide her to a successful spot in fashion. Now a stylist and personal shopper her days are spent shopping and seeking out special pieces for the lucky women she dresses. Some of her favorite pieces from the fall collection included a purple leather skirt, cobweb crew neck sweater and the printed leopard fur coat with the white fox collar.

Her unique almost unedited mix always catches my attention.  The look this time layers a ton of cliché adjectives in one look. Vintage inspired shades: Pretty pink lipstick: Casual pastel cardigan over the Prim tailored heather gray top: Preppy khaki reworked in Sexy skin tight pants with a subtle rolled cuff: Edgy studded, strappy zip platforms and Ethnic and Modern bangles and bracelets stacked up each wrist. The Subversive pierced bag, Exotic gold ring, Homely coat and Glamorous Japanese manicure are just the finishing touches of a Carmen’s Thursday morning look. 

To say her look is eclectic would be an understatement. Carmen credits Diana Ross and Grace Jones as style icons and describes her personal style as “DYNAMIC”.  My take on her style, WONDERFUL.

Karen Walker shades, Stella McCartney top, DVF cardigan, BCBG ring, JBrand khakis, Miu Miu shoes, Matthew Williamson coat, Emilio Pucci bag, personal collection of bracelets, nails by Naomi @NaomiNailsNyc

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sə-ˈpȯrt\ 2 a (1) : to promote the interests or cause of (2) : to uphold or defend as valid or right

Not sure if it is the same in all industries but fashion seems to be one that is built on support. My first internship at Calvin Klein came at the suggestion of my father’s friend; my internship with Fashion Group International came about from the recommendation of a professor at Parsons. The interest and encouragement of peers and mentors has always been a huge part of becoming designer almost dependant on this support.

With Dallin Chase the support the last four years has been tremendous. Editors and retailers have taken time to see me along the way, some who knew me well before I began Dallin Chase others who saw something in the collection the first season out.  Fabric suppliers and local factories that worked with me on creating Dallin Chase and helped me push concepts to fruition. The truth is once a sketch leaves the sketchpad the amount of people that are involved
in getting it to the end customer is innumerable.

We presented our Fall 2011 collection. Many of the guests were familiar ones, others new to Dallin Chase, most of them part of the process that makes this industry so wonderful. New York Fashion week starts tomorrow so as you sit back and enjoy your favorite collection on take a second to remember all the amazing, talented and devoted “fashion people” behind the logo at the end of the runway.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kü-ˈtu̇r, -ˈtuer\ 1: the business of designing, making, and selling fashionable custom-made women’s clothing

Well over ten years ago I found myself having a conversation with a couturier. It was one evening on 57th street well after all the stores had closed for the day. I had stopped in front of Dior to look at the pieces in the window.  “What do you think?” asked a voice from beside me. The man who asked the question was James Gallanos. Here I was standing on 57th street talking with a designer who from what I knew of at the time was this made-to-measure god.

It was clear that what we both were looking at was not to his liking. I shared with him that I was an aspiring designer and that I knew of his work. What I remember most clearly was that he said “it’s not the same” he described having special zippers made to match stripes on a gown and that the business of fashion would never be the same. You could see his passion for the art of making clothes and how the woman wearing the creations was what inspired him. Things may not be the same and some of the fantastic players may no longer be in the game (Lacroix, Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace) but the beauty and fantasy of couture still exists.

Coverage of the Spring 11 Couture collections on

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vin-tij\ b: length of existence

It would be fair to say that I rarely if ever, find inspiration from vintage pieces. The desire to sketch new ideas and source fabrics has been the go to formula with my own collection as with things I designed before. Even with the fantasy of trying to create something that may have never existed (ha) I have made my way to discovering the beauty of unique vintage pieces.

The first time I vintage shopped it was by accident. Wandering
the streets of Paris I zigzagged through what I thought was a book
store. Kiliwatch turned out to be an oasis of perfectly organized
signature pieces that were "used". It may have been the "greener on the other side" attitude but I went back twice that trip and put my (at the time) Francs where my mouth never was. Since Kiliwatch there have been some enlightening encounters with vintage shopping. A spot in Queens that’s on the DL, Gallery 429 in Greenport, Portia and Manny's in nolita all have sparked revisits.

Last April on a trip to Tokyo I found myself wandering the streets
(hobby of mine) and not once but twice stumbled upon Chicago Vintage,
first on Omotesando then on Jingumae. The selection of denim polo shirts and
Fair Isle sweaters was enough to send any nouveau yup-pster foaming at
the chained comme des garcon wallet. In the back past the South
American cotton tiered skirts were two racks of kimonos. The cliché of
vintage kimonos found in Japan was enough to skip looking them over,
until from the corner of my eye a psychedelic blown up wood grain print
caught my attention. Needless to say this "vintage" piece made its
way home with me. I am not sure if I like it or not, but I do love it.
I love the sheen of the silk, the scratchy weave that goes from graphic
in one glance to hazy and soft in the next. The thin cotton voile color blocked lining of dusty red next to cherry red is my favorite part. Reinterpreting
the print for spring was the initial idea and when that did not work we
thought then for fall; well here's a head's up, it did not happen. I
doubt it will ever become part of the Dallin Chase collection. Even so
I enjoy having it in the studio, my "used" kimono from Japan. More so
I enjoyed the experience of finding what has already been and maybe what it could become.

photos by Jill Birschbach

photo by Jill Birschbach if you need a wallet