“Pearls, Lots of Pearls”: 032c Goes Backstage with ADAM SELMAN

Due to his work as the costume designer for Rihanna—as well as for other celebrity clients—ADAM SELMAN has been lauded as a master of the 21st century red carpet. As nod to his own personal style, Selman’s label casts a more exuberant and dressed-down air than his private work. With girls in Converse Chuck Taylors holding numbered signs, Selman’s highly-anticipated SS15 runway show at New York Fashion Week was a jocular spin on a 1950s salon presentation.

032c spoke with Adam Selman backstage before the show.

What’s your approach to showing on the runway for the first time? Are there any surprises in store for us?

I am trying not to think of it as a traditional runway show, so I’ve taken that pressure off myself. I wanted to kind of riff on the old school style of showing and selling clothing, but make it a little more tongue-in-cheek, losing the stuffiness associated with this kind of approach. It will still be scruffy and fun, and hopefully people will enjoy watching the process of me still figuring out how to do this! I think there will be a few surprises in store for everyone, but mostly for me.

Tell us about the transition from working with private clients to creating collections. Have you changed your design approach in order to work with this new audience? Are your clients still your muses?

I actually still work a lot with private clients, half of my business is still in making custom pieces for clients. It’s a dream. I can make one of anything, but figuring out sourcing and production on how to make multiples of an entire collection is a different ballgame. I am still learning something new around each corner, and each season I try to branch out and tackle a little more than I could before. I am constantly trying to push myself. My clients are definitely still my muses. Amy, Rihanna, Lorde—these are all girls I look up to and admire. I love working closely with people and collaborating is my favorite thing to do.

Tell us about these collaborators. Who’s your team?

My team in my studio is amazing—Bri, Marley, Emma, Zev. We are like an eclectic extended family. My studio is so tiny and crammed, so we’ve become very close. They bend over backwards making everything possible. Mel Ottenberg is obviously my main man, collaborator, and consultant. I run almost every decision by him and I really trust his buds on all the details. Jen Brill does the creative direction for the show, and it’s great to have a female in the mix to help us stay grounded when it comes to femininity. Paul Devro creates the soundtrack to the collection and has since the beginning. Rafael de Cárdenas did the Harumi-inspired makeup print for the clothes, and has done all the sets in the past—his creative vision is truly inspiring. So many more people have helped create this world, and I am so fortunate to work with such creative visionaries.

The collection you presented last autumn was centered around the story of a hiker discovering treasure in the French Alps. What’s the narrative inspiring this collection?

I usually start designing from a place of fantasy and nostalgia. For me, it keeps designing amusing and it helps me tell a story—even if I don’t take any of it too literally. In the end, the narrative came out something like: messy, smudged, and smeared makeup colors with a Harumi Yamaguchi airbrush twist on a dewy skinned “Jane Birkin.” City girls with a tomboy edge. Covered in pearls, lots of pearls.

We heard that all the girls in the show were going to be wearing Converse. What inspired that decision for you?

I wear Converse 90% of the time. Jason Thome, an old friend of mine works at Converse and randomly sent me a new pair in the mail. A light bulb clicked. I love a great 5-inch heel—I always will—but this collection needed a change of pace from the last. It just felt easier—more “real”—and in the end it’s more relatable to my personal style. That’s the message I am trying to put out there.

Photography by Kevin Tachman. For more information visit adamselman.com