Matthew Ames Runway Preview

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Designer Matthew Ames possessed a zen-like calm yesterday amidst the pre-Fashion Week chaos right outside his studio space overlooking Bryant Park. The young designer launched his namesake brand in 2005 and will be presenting his first runway show at Fashionhaus this Sunday at 3 p.m. Between meeting with editors and fitting the models, the gentle Brooklyn-based Ames offered us a preview of his sculptured, minimalist designs and discussed his experience in the industry so far.

His past collections have been dominantly black and white, with some splashes of bright color (usually red). The Fall 2009 collection is a departure, though, incorporating a classic American-inspired palette of camel, tobacco, olive green, and true blue denim colors. Though his designs are still marked by their unique structure, volume and shape, the shift in color gives them a warmth that’s new to his catalogue.

Ames said he strives to eliminate the unnecessary in his work, and there is definitely a pureness to his design and aesthetic. There are no buttons, no linings. Instead, the designer trains his focus on creating a shape — achieving that balance between the body and fabric, between the volume and proportions of the clothing. The coats, jumpsuits, one-shouldered wrap dresses, skirts and flowing pants are layered, draped and appear unstructured on a hanger, but move with graceful ease on a woman’s body. We tried on one of the charcoal cashmere/cotton blend corduroy coats and were in awe of the life it took on.

Fall ’09 continues his use of luxe fabrics like ultra-suede, cashmere and silk crepe. Denim is new, and the way he uses it in a dress-like jumpsuit with hidden ankle openings is a wild twist on a classic American fabric.

Words or images that inspired the collection? Not so much. Ames said he mostly reflected on Agnes Martin, the twentieth-century Canadian-American minimalist painter, and her regard for the “untroubled mind.” A pure approach is inspiration in and of itself.

Finally, how was this man cool as a cucumber days before his first official runway show?! “Maybe I internalize [all the craziness],” he said with a shy smile.

Find his wares at Takashimaya in New York (note, not at Bergdorf as it’s been reported on blogs), Savannah in LA, Forty Five Ten in Dallas and various destinations worldwide.