By Ranjani Gopalarathinam
Rarely are fashion and culture in pitch-perfect sync, but Sue Stemp, a vivacious British fashion designer living in New York, finds a distinctive thru-line in her work. By using custom textiles and treading the deep water of her influences, Stemp creates the wardrobe for her girl-of-the-moment with her F/W 2006 collection, "Honeymoon Delight."
The collection places flirtatious, fun aspects of 1950s and '60s silhouettes in the present, yielding chic but youthful creations. Stemp's dresses for fall are short, sassy numbers with kimono-shaped sleeves, inspired by the decadence of old Hong Kong. Her signature is offhanded glamour, inspired by the sexy, saturated feeling of shape and color of 1970s British design and culture. Circular cuts, draping techniques, and abbreviated lengths mute the too-smart sensibility of pencil skirts and suits. Feminine details like neck ribbons, bustles, and satin and lace embellishments further Stemp's vision, without taking it over the top.
Like one of her personal icons, Elsa Schiaparelli, Stemp believes in blurring the line between art and fashion by collaborating with up-and-coming illustrators Deanne Cheuk and Ben Copperwheat to create custom textiles for her dresses. Schiaparelli also worked with the important surrealist artists of her day, like Dalí. "Her stylish and ironic fusion of art and fashion, and the fact that she coined the color name Shocking Pink add to her iconic appeal for me," Stemp says.
In the past, Stemp has lent her talent to the seminal British label Ghost, as well as Tocca and McQueen. With this collection, she flaunts coming into her own. "I think it's the culmination of my love of music, getting dressed up, going out, and individual expression that inspires me the most," Stemp says.
Available at Le Dernier Cri, 869 Washington Street, New York City, Jake, 939 Rush Street, Chicago, and Milk, 8209 West Third Street, Los Angeles. For more information, go to www.suestemp.com.
Collection photography by Alexei Haye
Designer Sue Stemp's clothes capture the spirit of a New York girl's life without missing an English beat.