Billy Reid Inspired by Super Bowl, Oil Spill, Old-School Levi’s

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Models at the Billy Reid Spring 2011 presentation. Photo: Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

In the world of menswear, Billy Reid is a charming aberration. A family man who lives in small-town Alabama, Reid won the GQ Menswear Designer of the Year award and a coveted Levi’s collaboration. At last night’s presentation, he showcased the different strata of the southern gentleman — chic duck hunter, small-town lawyer, privileged country clubber, patrician deer hunter — all standing on a wooden platform decorated with eerie antique wooden doors. Reid stopped fixing a model’s tie for a quick interview.

How does living in Alabama reflect upon your work?
It's one of those things — where you live and where you’re from — it can’t help but influence you. It’s just something that happens.

Do your friends in Alabama get what you do? What do they think about your job?
I think they’re somewhat intrigued by it. Certainly my daughters’ friends are more intrigued by it than my daughters are.

How has winning the GQ award changed your life?
It's great; it was a major deal. I was very fortunate. And it was great to work for Levi’s. It was great just to go and work with their factories and work with their people and go through their archives. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Why do you think the world is so ready for your cultured-southern-gentleman aesthetic?
Well, I hope they’re ready! I don’t really think of it in those terms. For us, this is what we do. I make the clothes we wanna wear and we wanna put in our closet.
And build them to last, not just from a durability standpoint, but from a style standpoint. You want things that are going to age like furniture, to be heirloom garments to pass down to the next generation.

I just walked through the setting here. Tell me about it. There are all of these antique doors standing; it looks like a hurricane has hit.
That’s a pretty good pickup. it was influenced by the photography of Clarence John Laughlin, who documented the South's, particularly New Orleans', decayed architecture, in a very sort of ghostly way. My head was pretty much in New Orleans the entire season. I grew up outside of New Orleans. My family is all from Louisiana. The Saints winning the Super Bowl kicked off the season development-wise for us, and the oil spill was at the end of the season when I was finishing things up. I really couldn’t pull myself out of home. This is kind of a reflection of that.

See more: Billy Reid's Spring 2011 Collection