Neapolitan Background

2011 April 22

What's Chic in the Midwest? We need to know! If you've been to Chicago, you naturally know shopping haute spot Neapolitan, so we've asked owner Kelly Golden to fill us in on the latest from the windy city. She starts her column off with a bang! 


"We were thrilled to have Derek Lam in Chicago last week for a private dinner and trunk show at neapolitan.  It was his first visit to the store and he definitely made a lasting impression with my clients. We hosted the dinner at Sunda in the private room upstairs (a great venue to host a private event, btw), and Derek mingled with clients (most of whom were decked out in his luxurious pieces), while his Fall 2011 runway show was shown on the big screen.  Derek seemed to really connect with everyone that night, probably because he designs with my customers in mind---"understated luxury," and everyone went home with an incredible goody bag filled with a few of my favorite things--Vosges chocolates, Chantecaille lipsticks, to name a few..


Having carried Derek's collection since I opened neapolitan in 2003 (the same year he launched his namesake collection), I have had the wonderful opportunity to see his designs evolve and his collection expand into shoes and handbags.  And his client following has grown impressively over the years! Every single woman who came to the store to meet him and see his Fall 2011 collection bought something.  I think they were impressed by not only his gorgeous collection, but also his down-to-earth, likable personality.  It was amazing to see him work with clients he met just moments earlier. He was able to pinpoint their style and the pieces that would compliment them the most. He definitely impressed his longtime followers, and wooed several first-time admirers.


Derek continues to be one of my favorite designers, especially for Fall! I'll be wearing lots of his knits and coats next season, which are luxurious, and modern, yet super wearable and great for travel. I can't wait to get a dress from his pre-collection with a knit top and leather gathered skirt. It will be "the" dress to have for Fall, especially since leather continues to be so popular.  And I will be forever dreaming about Derek's ombre grey fox vest with honeycomb texture--the most amazing fur piece I have ever seen!


I'm hoping Derek will come and visit next season, and so do all of my clients! I also had the pleasure of sitting down with Derek to ask him a few questions about his inspirations, Chicago and growing up in a fashion household for my blog, so I wanted to share it with you, too.


So Derek, I know that you grew up in San Francisco in a family that was in the garment business.  How did that impact your decision to be a fashion designer?

Yes, my grandparents owned a garment factory in San Francisco.  My parents were really young when they had us kids so fashion and style had key roles in our household, a big part of our family make-up.  In the beginning, I resisted fashion for just that reason and really thought that I was going to be an artist or a writer.  But as I got older, I was able to really see the potential success of combining my fashion point-of-view and creativity with a business model.  


How do you feel fashion differs creatively from being an artist or a writer?

I love that fashion is always changing from season to season, year to year—it's always spontaneous.  Art and writing are still a big part of my life, but I love that fashion is culturally tangible for anyone and everyone. Because I have new collections every six months, I'm able to constantly re-evaluate what is inspiring me and create collections that reflect those changes.


You are known for your sportswear pieces. Why sportswear?

 I love to think of luxury in an informal way.  I have purposely removed myself from couture and designs that feel uptight. When I begin a collection, I never think of complete ensembles. I think about silhouettes of items and what cuts or details inspire me for each item, such as my skirts, pants, and sweaters. Then I create looks with my samples once the design process is done. This philosophy is also how I feel my customers shop. They don't necessarily think about buying a head-to-toe look each season but instead want to find unique and special pieces that will integrate into their existing wardrobe.


I read an article on you in a local magazine recently that said that real women inspire you, and that Chicago has those types of women.  What is it about Chicago that makes you feel that way?

Chicago, to me, has an indelible mark in culture through its museums, food, and architecture.  It is also the epitome of Midwestern values and a beautiful urban center.  Since I design with an American point of view, Chicago has an honest persona and exemplifies the best integrity of American values and style.



Wow! Go Chicago! So now that the weather is finally getting nice, do you have any fun summer plans?

I'm really looking forward to finally moving into my beach house.  We built it from scratch, so it was a big exercise in creativity and a real labor of love.  


Going back to your childhood, you said that you always wanted to be a writer. If you were ever to write a book, what would it be about?

I love exploring different cultures through travel so it would be amazing to write about my experiences going into an environment and discovering the overlying thread that connects us all.