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||Designers always seem to be in the spotlight these days at their star-filled runway shows, at clubs and parties, ducking paparazzi cameras, and on Page Six the morning after. But not Katayone Adeli. She's private without being reclusive, and open to the public especially with her beautiful new Bond Street store but never courting publicity. Which is why we all, happily, fell off our chairs when she agreed to talk to us. We've been fans of hers for a long time, and for good reason. Her clothes have the simplicity and elegance of classic design, the fun and casual look of right now, they always seem to fit perfectly, and, best of all, they make you feel comfortable and sexy at the same time. Who could ask for more?
MARY: Should we start with an obvious question?
ANDREA: Because I know you from Parallel, that's the first time I saw your name, but I didn't know if that's where you began ...
KATAYONE: I've been making clothes for a long time for myself, just from not being able to find what I like. And then, little by little, friends wanted me to make stuff for them. And then I started working in the industry, and it wasn't quite what I expected. I ended up actually being a partner at Parallel, but it became too commercial. And I realized I had to either go on my own or just keep working for other people. So three years ago I started my company.
ANDREA: Had you put money away or did you go out and find backers?
KATAYONE: I asked my friends for money, just kind of begging this person, that person ...
MARY: Were they also fans who'd been wearing your clothes?
KATAYONE: They knew me. And the stores kind of knew me. So it wasn't such a struggle. Once I left Parallel, it was in the past. I never look back. So I just moved on and kind of went back to my roots what my friends would like. My friends were just this imaginary person who would be going out clubbing, and what would she like to wear?
MARY: Do they ever tell you what they want, or complain about things?
KATAYONE: I think it's more the needs that we all talk about, just as girls sitting around: "I wish I could have that in blue, or these pants don't fit me right ..."
MARY: You have to talk about pants.
ANDREA: When I shot Shirley Manson for Bazaar, you were such a favorite. She wears you all the time, right?
KATAYONE: That's very nice ...
ANDREA: She said you know how to dress a girl's arse.
KATAYONE: Well, I'm very body conscious ... not in showing it, but body conscious. I think we're all like that.
MARY: So what are you thinking about when you're fitting pants?
KATAYONE: Comfort, and I just want them to be sexy. I usually fit them really low. And if you're short-waisted they fit fine. If you're not, they fit fine too.
ANDREA: Did you put a lot of thought into the pocket? Because the pockets make your butt look really small.
KATAYONE: I always turn around to my assistant and ask, "Now how does my butt look? Can we improve in any way the back part?"
ANDREA: They're low and split a lot of the time, right? And closer together rather than farther apart?
KATAYONE: It's from years of altering Levis to fit. That's what it's about.
MARY: If you can alter Levis, you can do anything.
KATAYONE: It's basically a boy's fit for a girl, which is kind of straight, and round in the back instead of flat. It gives you more freedom to move and sit down. It's a more comfortable fit.
ANDREA: Do you think your customer is small?
KATAYONE: I think my customer is aware of her body.
MARY: Have you ever thought about doing menswear?
KATAYONE: I have some customers who are men.
MARY: Are they wearing dresses?
KATAYONE: They're not wearing dresses. They're wearing tops and pants.
ANDREA: And they're skinny ...
KATAYONE: Yeah. They love my pants because they're so low. I'd love to do men's clothes. I think it would be fun.
ANDREA: Who would be the Katayone Adeli man?
KATAYONE: Brad Pitt. Someone like him ...
ANDREA: Does he wear your pants?
KATAYONE: No, I don't believe so. But he would be the ideal model to have.
MARY: I saw Iggy Pop in Daryl K a few years ago ...
KATAYONE: I think he wears her clothes.
MARY: But he was with ...
KATAYONE: His wife.
MARY: No, he wasn't with his wife. It was a strange thing ...
ANDREA: Strike that from the record.
MARY: So, being in New York as opposed to L.A., does that change the way you work or design?
KATAYONE: At the end of the day I think no matter where you live, it's the same. Life is a little bit more hectic here and I don't have the privacy of being in my car, which is what I enjoy. In L.A., you can wear the highest heel and the shortest skirt, and it's okay because you're just valet parking, going in and sitting down. But in New York you're always moving, you're walking. You're influenced by the elements the cold, the wind; you're going to jump in the cab or jump out. So I always think a bit more realistically for women because it's such a battle out there. I want them to be comfortable and look good.
MARY: So is it easier to dress better in L.A.?
KATAYONE: I think it is. But it's more fun to dress up in New York. You look more at other people dressed up it's much more inspiring. In L.A., if you're nude or showing skin, you're dressed up. In New York, it's more about your clothes than your body.
MARY: So how did you settle on Bond Street? I've lived there for twenty years.
KATAYONE: Oh you have?
MARY: It's a great street.
KATAYONE: Yeah, it is. Around there it's always really cool. I wasn't going to open in Soho because it was about who had the bigger store. And then I thought about Chelsea, but I don't want to go shopping there personally. And I also liked the Elizabeth Street area, but the spaces were really small. I wanted the space, not to fill it with clothes, but so you can breathe when you go inside and not feel like you went into a walk-in closet.
ANDREA: Are you ever planning on having a show? Or has it been a conscious decision to not have one?
KATAYONE: I might have a show at the store, now that I have a space I'm comfortable with. I mean, it's great to get your point across when you do a fashion show, but I would rather just show the clothes. I don't want to do anything just to impress someone. If I feel like it's good for my business and it's good for my customer, I'll do it. I'm not against it. I think they're fun to go to.
MARY: What got everything going for you? I'm always curious how this happens for people.
KATAYONE: I wonder how it happens for people too. [laughs] I don't know.
MARY: Are there certain stores that carry your clothes that you can look to and say: "It really helped to be in there, it really got me a whole new kind of customer?"
KATAYONE: I think with us it was more word-of-mouth. Being in Barney's, yeah, that definitely helps. But customers always find clothes. You have to go somewhere to find the right pair of shoes ... So maybe there was something missing, a niche that I filled not really even planning to.
ANDREA: When you opened your own store, did that bother any of the other stores that carried you?
KATAYONE: I actually think it's good for them too. Here, you can see the whole line. You can concentrate. It's a much more serene space for when you need to just shop. But some of the stuff we're out of, so then people can go to the department stores.
ANDREA: Are a lot of things sold out already?
KATAYONE: Most of my cashmere sweaters are gone. Though I do have a few things for the store that I make exclusive.
Within each rack there are things that were made for the store, whether it's a different color or just something that I'm never going to produce. I have a cardigan like the big cardigan that your boyfriend would have, just cozy cashmere, that I made for myself. It never made it into the line because it arrived too late from overseas when I was making the sample, so I put that in the store ...
ANDREA: Are they gone?
KATAYONE: So you know that not too many people are going to have it, which makes it fun.
ANDREA: Do you get excited when you see someone wearing your clothes on the street?
KATAYONE: I do. Especially when they look amazing. A lot of people come up and tell me that they like the clothes. That's a great high. That's the reason I'm still here.
ANDREA: Do you think your customer is totally different from Daryl K's or Rebecca Dannenberg's? Or do you think the same person goes to all three?
KATAYONE: I don't see a relationship between the three of us. I'm not familiar with the Dannenberg line.
ANDREA: Right. She's not even open yet ...
KATAYONE: But I know Daryl K and I have a great deal of respect for her. I think she's done amazing and unusual things for the industry.
ANDREA: Do you mostly wear your own stuff?
KATAYONE: I do, but I also wear a lot of vintage clothes. I like mixing.
ANDREA: Are you a big shopper?
KATAYONE: I'm a crazy shoe person. I buy a lot of shoes.
MARY: Would you ever design shoes?
KATAYONE: I would like to design them. But I want them to be right, to make sure that while they're sexy and flattering, you can also wear them.
ANDREA: You can walk.
KATAYONE: The whole thing.
MARY: Do you have a favorite season to design for?
KATAYONE: I used to like more fall/winter, but I think that somehow the collections are crossing over that they're not as defined. When I look at other people's collections, I can't figure out: is this their spring line or fall? I can't really tell. So it's great because it just doesn't matter so much anymore. But now I think I can have a lot more fun with summer clothes. You can use colors and be a little more girly.
MARY: I think it used to be really difficult to dress for summer, but it's become much more fun. Maybe that's because we're more casual now.
ANDREA: To look professional in the summer is really hard.
MARY: I don't know if you have to look professional anymore.
KATAYONE: There was a point a few years ago when none of us wanted to wear a little dress again they were just so everywhere, little prissy dresses. But I like them now. I think the dress thing will be such a relief for a lot of us in the summer.
MARY: What about dressing for evening? That, to me, is a big challenge. What works for you?
KATAYONE: I'm not really big on evening dresses. I see them and they're beautiful, but they're not for me. I like it to be a bit more real. But if it's chic, and you have great shoes and a bag, that's all you need. That's why I always think, if you find a good dress, just buy it. Because when you shop for a specific event, you can never find it.
ANDREA: Then you buy it and then you never get invited ...
KATAYONE: That happens to me.
ANDREA: I bought one of yours about four years ago. You had that slip dress with the two inserts and a sort of dotty lace ... It was so new looking then, but I still have it. And I still love it.
KATAYONE: I think if a dress is special, and it fits you right, you keep wearing it.
MARY: Do you have any fashion pet peeves?
KATAYONE: I try not to be too critical, but I don't like it when women look like a particular ad just looking exactly like it was in the ad.
MARY: What do you think of these big luxury houses buying up all the companies? Would you be interested if somebody came to you and said: "We want to give you all this money ...?"
KATAYONE: No, because then you're working for someone else. Right now, I'm happy just working for myself, with a clear head, and making my own decisions. I find all this kind of odd, but the companies seem to be successful so I guess they're doing something right. It just seems like the whole industry's going to be owned by two different companies.
KATAYONE: So it's a little bit strange.
MARY: Now you haven't had any sales yet. Are you going to have a sale?
KATAYONE: That sounds foreign to me. No, I probably will have one for my customers. But I don't think I've ever bought anything on sale that I hadn't bought at regular price.
ANDREA: Oh, you're a good shopper.
KATAYONE: Because I have made the mistake, like all of us, of buying stuff on sale that never worked.
MARY: Now, the recent Times article was the first time I'd ever read about you, and it said that you hardly ever give interviews so thank you, first of all. But is that for any particular reason?
KATAYONE: I don't think it makes anyone run to buy your stuff if someone writes down what you're chatting about. I think they buy it because they like the way it looks on them.
MARY: To me, you've always been very mysterious ...
KATAYONE: I'm not mysterious and I'm not shy. I'm always happy to talk to my customers, or to people who know about my line even if you're not a customer. But there's really not much to talk about. [laughter]
ANDREA: Thanks for talking to us.