Style Points is a weekly column on how fashion intersects with the rest of the world.
Before taking her to the catwalks of Tom Ford-era Gucci and Karl Lagerfeld-era Chanel, Carolyn Murphy’s romance with fashion began with a humble pair of Care Bears jeans. Growing up in a small town in Florida, she says, “I wasn’t really exposed [to fashion] outside the local mall. But she started reworking the clothes at a young age, taking those urchin mascots and stitching them up on a new pair when she outgrew the first one. “Or I would try to recreate the Polo label with embroidery” – long before she set foot on the Ralph Lauren catwalk. She also turned to her grandmother, who hand-sewed her family clothes with labels that read “Made with love by Nana.”
“It was through modeling that I understood fashion,” she says now.
“Working so closely with the designers, doing shows where we are at these long fittings, but also seeing their tailors at work, especially during sewing. It was still there, and I paid attention to it. I listened and learned a lot,” she says. However, “I had no real intention of entering the world of design myself.”
But lately, that’s exactly what she’s been doing. After collaborating with Los Angeles-based line Mother on an upcycled range last year, Murphy has yet another design foray. And this one is quite personal. She worked with designer ADEAM Hanako Maeda on a collection celebrating the brand’s 10th anniversary, inspired by Murphy’s early days in Japan. With both projects, “of course I jumped at the chance, mostly because they are more conscientious lines,” she says. The collection will be available on the brand’s website and in a pop-up on Madison Avenue, open until July.
Murphy sent Maeda an inspiration board of things she liked, including art and ceramics made by Japanese artisans. She was also inspired by the clothes she wore early in her modeling career in Japan. “In the early 90s, it was a kind of Paris or bankruptcy,” she explains. “I tried this my senior year of high school and it wasn’t really for me. I just said, “Well, if this is modeling, I’m not going to walk around in mini dresses and go out to clubs all night.” When she moved to Japan to pursue her modeling career, she found ground to be “more my speed.” It was a great work ethic. I knew what to expect. I worked six days a week, sometimes two or three jobs a day, but that’s where I thrived.
The relocation was the start of a lifelong love affair with the country, its history and the variety of its natural landscapes. Not to mention her fashion. Murphy, happy to get rid of her mini-dresses, has carved out a style niche for herself: “clean classic pieces, neutral colors. Things you can count on and always have in your wardrobe. She favored simple, utilitarian pieces from “stores with no name”, which she continued to reinterpret for the ADEAM collection, from cuffed shorts to a sleeveless dress inspired by a trench coat she owned at the time.
With Murphy in LA and Maeda in Tokyo, the design process was done remotely. “It was such an eye-opening experience to see the pieces in her wardrobe that have stood the test of time,” Maeda says. “Carolyn has worked with so many designers and experimented with different trends, so she has a very refined eye for timeless pieces.” Maeda adds that the two wanted to pay homage to how “Japanese people revere and live in harmony with nature”, by using sustainable textiles and yarns for the collection, including recycled cotton cashmere and organic cotton denim. . Many materials were locally sourced. Says Murphy: “I love that part, getting the samples and going, ‘Okay, this is from this farm and this family in Japan, it’s been three generations, looming and dying.’ Storytelling is such a big part of this collection, which again makes it more sentimental.
Murphy, who was recently honored at the Sustainable Style Awards, is quick to note, “I’m definitely not on a soapbox…I’m not the queen of sustainability. I am also not the source of information on this. There are a lot of other people who are really spearheading it. I just chose to live a very simple, back to basics lifestyle.
She estimates that three quarters of her wardrobe is vintage. “When I buy something, it’s something I’m going to have for a while, and it’s not going to be disposable.” Murphy found herself increasingly distressed “having raised a daughter who shopped in a lot of these fast fashion places where I was just gross, looking at her and her peers. I worked intimately with some of these brands, [and] I said I wouldn’t work with them until they agreed to do something more sustainable. I think we all have to push each other.
Speaking of durability, Murphy indeed timed Bella Hadid’s re-wearing of the Tom Ford-era Gucci dress she originally wore on the fall 1996 runway: “Oh my God, I was so excited. I actually reposted a photo and then took it down 10 minutes later because I was like, ‘Wait, what am I doing?’ I get embarrassed about it. But that was my first reaction. I was so excited. She was beautiful. And that’s what I said in my post, Bella looked so beautiful in that dress and how nice to see her off the catwalk and on it, 25 years later. She’s actually one of the current models who not only seems to love fashion, but goes deep.
This fashion moment took her back to a heady time. “You could feel the excitement during the shows. It was palpable,” she recalls. When she looked Gucci House“I was laughing, because I just remember being there,” hearing this young Texan phenom tell her how much, with her blonde hair and golden skin, she looked like her mother.
Tom Ford wasn’t the only designer to have had an impact on her. “The first time I flew on a private plane was with Karl Lagerfeld. We had shot the Lagerfeld campaign at his home in Hamburg. I had never seen anything like it. It was like a castle. Then we flew to Paris, and he didn’t want me to stay at the hotel. He wanted me to stay with him,” she said, remembering how excited she was to spend the night Naomi, Christy and Linda had preceded her. Their bond continued for decades, with Lagerfeld sending Murphy and her mother thoughtful gifts. (“You could say you liked a certain scent, and the next time you got it your house.”)
She also remembers closing a Versace couture show as a bride. “I tripped on the track and left in tears. [Gianni] sent me flowers to my hotel later, with a note saying, “I know our wedding got off to a bad start, and it’s our honeymoon night. Please join me for dinner? “
What he misses the most in this era is the absence of social media, which “added this other layer of self-promotion. I’m the worst when it comes to Instagram. I try. I have my daughter who gives me benchmarks. What I miss is that I was always proud to have this healthy separation. And I think that was appreciated at one point, that you weren’t at all the parties, that you weren’t hanging out with all the photographers and editors. Now there is nothing sacred. Everything is so exposed and exploited. I hope he will back down a bit.
She is nostalgic for a pre-internet world in other ways as well. When they worked with people like Steven Meisel and Pat McGrath, they “would come in with trunks full of books, or they’d say, ‘Go home and watch this movie tonight.’ There was a real education. Now you just need to click a button, see a picture. There is no real link. There is no discovery you there.” Murphy has had the luxury of being able to develop her style in an analog world, and with this collection, she officially shares the wealth.
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