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Q&A: Joseph Altuzarra on Fashion Show Stress, His Furry Parkas, John Galliano, Drinking, and More

As Katie Holmes exited Barneys on Madison Avenue yesterday afternoon, young designer Joseph Altuzarra walked in, ready to do some early sales of his fall 2011 collection at his trunk show. The fall 2011 grunge- and thirties-inspired show, complete with fur-lined parkas and fur-accented glitter shoes, was fantastically received in New York. "There's a moment right after the show, right after it ends, where you're just like, 'Wow, that was intense. And it lasted seven minutes,'" he told us mere hours before he was nominated a second year in a row for a CFDA award. We also talked about where he finds inspiration on the streets of New York; if he believes the market for parkas costing upwards of $7,000 is still kicking; and the John Galliano scandal.

So: fur parkas! They were a big hit on the runway.
The collection really started with the idea, ultimately, of wearability. I was drawing this during a really cold winter, this past one, in New York. It was brutal, it was awful.

Do you get seasonal depression in the winter?
Not really. I get sick after my show, but especially now when we're doing pre-collection and starting that before the show even happens, there's kind of a locomotive that keeps you going and you don't really have time to get depressed.

You designed it all in New York. Did you see stuff on the streets here that inspired you?
I was seeing all the parkas and outerwear, and I kind of wished I had one. I wouldn't say the collection stems from what I wanted, but I felt a need for things that were warm, and people were saying I needed things that were warmer! So.

So what were you thinking about while designing?
I was thinking about anoraks and parkas and how you can be insulated. These are insulated on the inside and have rabbit. There's rabbit, there's fox, that's silver fox. The shorter one is coyote. It was kind of taking the tailoring we usually do and making it slightly roomier so you can wear a lot of layers underneath.

Why all the animals?
I think there's a certain richness about having a fur hood or coyote hood, which makes it not like any other parka. It's a challenge when you're doing something as utilitarian as a parka to make it feel like a better cut or to feel more expensive. And everything we do is a little sexy, so there's a lot of see-through in the knits, things fraying or being destroyed (it doesn't actually fray), and then very, very light dresses. The light dresses have prints that are original, this print was woven, it was an actual fabric woven in and then photographed and pleated and then we kind of messed it up even more in Photoshop and then we digitally printed it on chiffon.

You should send Courtney Love this frayed dress.
Yeah! I'm sure she'd love it. I think she's great. I love her music, actually.

Who are your other grungy icons?
I think the Johnny Depp-Kate Moss couple, at the time, although they were slightly post-grunge but they were definitely very cool.

One of the more basic spring dresses by you is $1,260, a fur-lined parka is $7,400 — how is your line in these dour economic times?
I think it's doing very well. I think the market for very high-end was never really that depressed. There are different modes of buying things now. There are a lot more online sales now. And I think clothes are functioning differently. People are probably buying more daywear, less cocktail. But there's definitely still that customer, and she's still shopping.

What's your take on John Galliano losing his job at Dior?
It's very sad. I think it's very convoluted as well. I think it's difficult to get an idea of exactly what happened and why and the aftermath. It's just difficult to understand right now.

Will we see any videos of you drunk on the Internet?
No! I don't really drink. Or I hold my liquor if I do.

Designer profile: Altuzarra
Also, see a slideshow of Altzarra's fall 2011 collection.

Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved. The Cut® are registered trademarks of New York Media LLC.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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