Tuesday, March 5, 2013
A Visit to the Carr Collection
Zack Carr and George Carr in Istanbul in 1995 (click on photos to enlarge)
One of my favorite big, over-sized books sitting on my book shelf is called Zack Carr.
It is a tribute to the American fashion designer who died in 2000 at the age of 55 from Poems syndrome, a rare cancer. The book was put together by Zack's brother George, an actor and filmmaker, after Zack died. Zack briefly had his own collection but is best known within the fashion industry for working as the head designer at Calvin Klein in the 70's, 80's and 90's, when Zack's signature take on simple luxury and glamour was the defining style of the Calvin Klein collections.
The book is an entertaining collage of diaries, photographs, sketches, and post cards which celebrates Zack's really great taste and the icons who shaped his sense of American style – for example Jackie Onassis, Isabella Rossellini, Elizabeth Taylor and Georgia O'Keefe -
Zack with Calvin Klein
and with Grace Coddington, who was the Creative Director at Calvin Klein before she went to work for Anna Wintour at Vogue -
"I am the only one who can make my life work."
Zack's quintessential American taste combined elegant sophistication with streamlined simplicity, and the book inspires me. Years later at a party I met Zack's brother George Carr. In typical New York City fashion, it turns out that George lives across the street from us.
Recently George invited me to see a new collection of clothes that he has launched for men and women called Carr which is drawn from Zack's sketches. In his showroom, George explained that at the onset of his illness, Zack became paralyzed almost overnight and that the only thing he could continue to do was sketch, so he filled hundreds of Hermes notebooks with drawings of his designs.
George now owns all of the notebooks and uses them as the basis for Carr. In the notebooks one can see the fluid, easy quality of Zack's style.
Some of the sketches are finished with vivid color.
Zack's scrapbooks combined his favorite inspirations. Here is O'Keefe again, this time paired with Picasso.
From a sketchbook, a Picasso cubic painting on the left page and the red coat sketch on the right page inspired this Carr men's sweater knitted in an abstract pattern for Fall 2013.
On the men's side of the Carr showroom, George arranged shelves of inspiration. The Carr boys, including another brother Peter, grew up in Kerrville, Texas, so references include cow skulls and limestone rocks and Texas silver.
On the women's side, samples are arranged next to colorful sketches.
The men's collection is available exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue, and the women's collection is sold to private clients. All of the clothes have the clean lines and comfortable ease of Zack's drawings. Gone but not forgotten thanks to his brother George, Zack Carr's quest for beauty and a spectacularly stylish life goes on.