The Sophisticated Basics of Fashion Designer Rebecca Turbow.
by Valerie Landry
New York based fashion designer Rebecca Turbow is definitely a designer to discover this season! Offering sophisticated basics with exquisite construction under her eponymous label, she will easily find her place into your wardrobe. At age 23, Rebecca Turbow launched her first label, Safe, a young and retro-inspired line for those who love clean and sporty, yet feminine, mod-influenced style. Over the years, she matured and refined her style to launch her eponymous label in Fall 2009, taking to a wider range of women, professionals or fashionistas.
Her newest collection is, without a doubt, the modern definition of Mod! Her collection bears Twiggy/Peggy Moffit styling and monochromatic tones, but still maintains girly shapes and pieces that are designed with an edge. Perfect hooded capes, collarless cropped jackets, Peter Pan collars and micro-mini dresses are well presented in her collection, bringing a sense of playfulness to the deeper tones. Even though monochromatic, Rebecca Turbow is anything but boring!
Valérie: When did all of this start for you?
Rebecca: I’ve been making clothing since I was a teenager. Then I studied fashion and textiles in college. As soon as I graduated, I moved to New York and started making and designing clothing out of my bedroom. It grew slowly from there.
Valérie: Are you an art fan? If so, what are some artists you’ve been inspired by recently?
Rebecca: Yes. I’ve done art my whole life. Painting, sculpture and jewelry specifically, which is what led me to fashion. I love a lot of artists, but fashion wise I’ve been very inspired by Vanessa Beecroft, Francesca Woodman and Kiki Smith. One of my best friends is also a painter, Janine Iversen, and she is constantly inspiring me with her work – it’s really amazing.
Valérie: What inspires your designs?
Rebecca: My designs have always pretty much stemmed from things I want to wear and can see myself in. Things that make me comfortable, feel more secure and confident with myself. My clothing has always really affected my mood and how I feel on a certain day.
Valérie: What has been your most rewarding achievement as a designer?
Rebecca: I guess, knowing that there are people who appreciate what I do. That no matter what I’m going through, people out there believe in me and I can see that.
Valérie: Summer or Winter?
Rebecca: Winter. I’m much happier when I get to wear a lot of clothes.
Valérie: Being raised in a family of leather smiths and furriers, why don’t we see an influence of those materials in your designs?
Rebecca: Well, I think mostly because I was a vegetarian from the time I was 12 till about 23. I no longer am and I am actually trying to include more of that in my work now, slowly. My dad no longer has his studio, but he made beautiful things, some of the most amazing I’ve ever seen. My dream is to have him work with me some day. Maybe on a line of belts and handbags, maybe even sandals, that was one of his specialties; he made these beautiful strappy leather sandals.
Valérie: What’s the best piece of advice you learned while doing your internship at Imitation of Christ?
Rebecca: Oh wow, I can’t even remember, it was so many years ago. I learned a lot though. It was my introduction to New York and fashion week. Before that I knew nothing of the world at all. I was just thrown right in and sort of saw how everything worked behind the scenes very fast. It was also really difficult at times. Tara (Subkoff) is an interesting character, and although she wasn’t always easy to work with, I feel it was the right person for me to be around. She’s always been doing something a little different from everyone else, and I’ve always sort of seen myself more like her than a lot of other designers.
Valérie: Known as the ‘teal girl’ your designs are mostly monochromatic shades of gray and white. Why not reflect your love of colour in your designs? And why a sudden change of ‘signature’ color in your own look?
Rebecca: That was my thing for many years, yes, but I haven’t worn “teal” in probably four years now. It was strictly grey and white for a couple years and then black as well, which is where I am at now. I do love color, but not really, not in the way people used to think, because of the sea-foam green. That was really the only color for me. In high school for example I wore a lot of brown. I’ve sort of always been drawn to weird shades of things, but bright colors like red, I just can’t get into. And I stopped with the green because I just got tired of it, needed a change, was growing up.
Valérie: Do you prefer designing men’s or women’s clothing?
Rebecca: Women’s, because I’m a women and think of myself first, but I also totally love designing for men. I’m really hoping I can continue with a full men’s line soon.
Valérie: Your collaboration with the photographer Tom Hines is wonderful. Where did it all start?
Rebecca: I don’t remember exactly. I think we met out and about through mutual friends and when he started doing more fashion photography I was kinda one of the first people he worked with. We experimented at first, we’re friends and hang out, but then it turned into to something really amazing for my work. He’s the best, and I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world to have had him help me. I really don’t know what I would have done without him all these years. He’s truly a genius!
Valérie: Are there any other photographers you would like to collaborate with?
Rebecca: I have worked with Aliya Naumoff on my Fall 2011 look book and I really want to work with her more, she’s really great, and has also helped me out a lot.
Valérie: Your Fall 2011 collection seems to be inspired by the model Peggy Moffitt, minus the colors. Are you a fan of hers?
Rebecca: I am, sure, but I really didn’t even think of her at all. My friend Shea Prueger modeled that shoot and she happened to have just cut her hair really short. I love her, she’s a great model and fits my clothing really well. It wasn’t intentional though, but with my silhouettes and the 60’s inspired way my clothing fits at times, when all was done and photographed it did have that air of Peggy.
Valérie: I know that at the beginning of Safe your clothes were made here in NYC. Is it still the case? Why is it important for you to produce locally?
Rebecca: I do still produce everything in NYC right now and I would love to produce locally forever if I could. I love supporting the garment district, which has become my second home over the years. It may not be possible, though. I think most designers eventually have to go overseas when production quantities get larger and when they want certain things that just aren’t available here.
Valérie: What’s your secret for young people who want to break into the fashion design industry?
Rebecca: I don’t know if there’s a secret, other than hard work and not giving up. I still have a long way to go and I’m still constantly looking to others for advice myself. If you have a real dream and desire, it’s possible to make anything happen. It’s so different now, too, than even five years ago, so I don’t know. I know interning and working for someone else first is probably the smartest way to go and what I’d recommend for most people.
Valérie: Who are your favorite designers?
Rebecca: I love Rag & Bone, Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Chanel, Rachel Comey, Isabelle Marant, there are so many really.
Valérie: What’s next for you?
Rebecca: Well, I’m looking for new investors and business manager types right now, to keep things going and help the business grow in some real ways. I’d love to get some collaborations going soon. I still have a long way to go with my women’s line, but do eventually want to have a men’s line and accessories and shoes, of course. I think that’s all going to come a bit further down the line, though. I have a lot to accomplish before all of that.
Fashion Photographer: Victoria Janashvili (www.victoriajanashvili.com)
Model: Aleksandra APM Models
Hair & Makeup: Julia S. Dalton Brush (Brush Beauty)
Wardrobe: Rebecca Turbow
Portrait Photographer: Philip Mauro
.. Special thanks to JV Studios !