show & tell

Derek Lam Won’t Judge ‘Project Runway’

Derek Lam

Derek Lam drinks up.Photo: Patrick McMullan

Derek Lam (the proud new designer for Tod’s) showed at the Tunnel in Chelsea on Tuesday and kept with the season: belted silhouettes, high-waisted pants, and to-die-for double-breasted coats. Jocelyn Guest caught up with him for a quick chat on Project Runway and the rise of Asian designers at Fashion Week.

You started off at Michael Kors. Would you ever be a judge on Project Runway?
I think it was Nina [Garcia] who brought it up once, and this was maybe like a year and a half ago. I felt like it was a little too close to my reality in terms of the craziness of fashion and that I wouldn’t have a very clear perspective. I would have wanted everybody to succeed! I wouldn’t be able to vote anybody off. I’d be horrible and not able to critique anything. So I wouldn’t be a good judge.

A lot of great new designers have Asian roots. Do think it’s a trend in the fashion industry?
I don’t know if it’s a trend, but the reality is, you know, Asia for so long has been a manufacturing center for clothing and I think the new generation, the children of the owners of these factories, kind of grew up around the idea of clothing as a viable profession. But they’re taking it to the next step — not just being manufacturers but being designers.

Does that ring true with you?
Very much. My grandparents own a factory in San Francisco so I was surrounded by seamstresses and the whole creation of clothing. They did bridal clothing. Now, when I prepare a show and all the seamstresses are around, it takes me to a certain comfort level as it was when I was a child. So I think that has a lot to do with what’s driving behind more Asian designers.

Where do you go from here?
Milan for Tod’s. But I’m still on adrenaline. It’s better to do it now than wait two weeks when you’re dead!

Browse Derek Lam’s fall 2007 collection.

Derek Lam Won’t Judge ‘Project Runway’