Joseph Altuzarra Wants His Target Line to ‘Feel Expensive’

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Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

“Staggering. Just crazy.” That’s how Joseph Altuzarra describes the stiletto he's holding, with a heel that looks like some sort of weapon.

But the 30-year-old designer isn’t referring to the height, or to the shoe’s vaguely S&M qualities. He’s talking about its price tag: $49.99. Since he started his line in 2009, Altuzarra’s prices have never ended in a row of nines, but now that he’s the latest talent to collaborate with Target, all that is changing.

He’s still not a household name (“I think the brand itself is still very niche”) but Altuzarra knows he’s about to reach a much wider audience. “You can see the movement” on social media, he says, where he’s already multiplied his follower counts by posting teaser images. He’s also hoping to reach some of his existing customers. “Women who are buying my own line are also shopping at Target," he says. "And I think there’s something sort of interesting about that, and that I find sort of fun.”

But how did he get such intricate designs — embroidered tops and dresses, finely tailored blazers — to ring in at numbers that don’t induce sticker shock? “There is a huge benefit to working with a retailer who’s producing hundreds of thousands of pieces of something, which just lowers the costs,” the designer explains. “So that was one way that we were able to do a lot of things at a much better price — sheer quantity.” He points out tiny details, like a white button that bears his name in gold. “Things like that that add a lot of richness just subconsciously feel more expensive." He also focused on "working a lot on cut, which is not something I think Target has done a lot of before." A fairly straightforward black blazer has an extra-slim sleeve, a high-cut armhole, and what the designer describes as “interesting peplum detailing” in the back.

Drawing on “the idea of this woman who goes around the world and is inspired by all of the different places she goes to,” he incorporated Swiss dotting, French tailoring, generously sleeved Romanian-style shirts, and bird prints inspired by Japanese lacquered screens. And, naturally, sex is in the mix: Altuzarra says he’s permanently “exploring themes like seduction and sensuality and sexuality.” In addition to those killer heels, there are python prints, a house signature, on ultralight chiffon and wide, slightly bondage belts. Those banker stripes from his spring 2013 collection found their way onto a crepe de chine button-down. But nothing is too literal: “From a very pragmatic point of view, I didn’t just want to exactly recycle the things we were doing for our own line,” he says. “I think it’s very much the same vocabulary. It’s the same woman, the same world, [but] I wanted to create something that felt unique to this collection.”

Click through the slideshow to preview all of the looks from the designer’s Target collaboration, which drops September 14.