After a two-year hiatus, Alvin Valley is relaunching his collection line during Fashion Week, showing wool and cashmere jackets, pants, and dresses inspired by the Mitford sisters in the twenties and thirties. We talked to Valley about his decision to reintroduce the collection — as well as seguing into menswear — despite the flailing economy. He admits that his well-to-do clientele has been "psychologically affected" by the downturn, but says that the Valley woman is still spending — albeit discreetly:
"Privately, I think that woman is shopping. She may not be out there walking around with shopping bags, but she's ordering things and wants them shipped to her home. It's not so much about being in your face…. I'm trying to create clothes in such a way that the wearer is the one that's enjoying it, not so much the viewer."
That means keeping extravagant details hidden behind the seams, like double-face cashmere and worsted-wool dresses with sable, mink, and fox-fur lining inside. Valley says he's also offering more one-on-one fittings and has been attending private shopping events in clients' homes. "I probably won't be doing $25,000 ball gowns or elaborate beading," he says. "It's more about the details within the garment than on the outside, so women can say 'I don't want anyone to see what I'm wearing.' I'm re-creating the process of what understated luxury really means." This Fashion Week, you'll never know what's going on beneath your neighbor's seemingly restrained hemline.