Making of the Collection: Fall 2012 Runway
This week we went behind the scenes to get all the inside deets on the film noir-inspired bebeBLACK Fall 2012 runway collection! Designer Charles Benton and fashion editor and stylist Beth Fenton dished on the inspiration behind the show, the key pieces every woman needs this fall and what they loved most about bringing bebeBLACK Fall 2012 to life.
STYLUST: Tell us about the inspiration behind the collection.
Charles: I definitely used the ’40s and ’80s as a starting point. The fact that I live in Hollywood helped my initial research. I wasn’t interested in the stars of today, I was interested in the stars from the ’30s and ’40s. Like Veronica Lake, who is feminine but also masculine in a way. Same with Rita Hayworth. It’s almost like they have a split personality, charming and beautiful but also very assertive. We borrowed from the ’80s, particularly Sean Young’s suiting, hair and makeup in Blade Runner. But really, I always sketch for the bebe girl, making sure that she looks stunning and loves the end result.
STYLUST: Who is this bebe girl? Where would she wear the collection?
Beth: The bebe girl is aware of her sexuality in a demure way, and this is reflected in the collection. I think with bebe it is key the spirit is playful and the pieces are versatile and accessible.
Charles: I think the collection is very broad. We made sure everything was classic and modern, interchangeable and could be worn with anything. You can make it modern, and you can make it classic. And to me bebe is really about class, it’s about sophistication. That really has always been Manny’s obsession. It’s to go out there and make sure that there’s a high level of attention to details and to really listen to what the customer wants and make her look beautiful.
STYLUST: Tell us a little bit about the styling in the show.
Beth: It was important to represent the strong, confident spirit of the women who inspired the collection: photographer Helmut Newton’s subjects and Hollywood film stars of the 1940s.
STYLUST: Do things change from L.A. to when you arrive in NYC and you’re actually fitting on the models?
Beth: There are always changes as the working process develops. It takes on a whole other dimension once the looks are fitted on the models. I like to create a believable character with the casting and the looks, like the seductress, the kooky kid, the tomboy.
STYLUST: What are the key silhouettes in this collection?
Beth: Definitely a strong shoulder. That’s been a conversation from the beginning.
Charles: The waist. It’s super powerful and very small.
Beth: And then a skinny leg with the cigarette pant. And the pencil skirt. Very sharp.
Charles: And there’s a super long maxi coat that we really love.
STYLUST: What are the key fabrics and pieces?
Charles: Leather is a very important material, like wool, that you would use for tailoring. It adds strength. We paid attention to lengths and cuts. Skirts are a bit longer, and we decided to go for a cigarette pant, something she could wear to work. The capes are updated for evening with attention paid to the shoulder.
Beth: Yes, the leather really adds strength—it punctuates the collection. The tailoring and dresses are key and the most empowering pieces to me. The quality of the faux fur and outerwear is impeccable. The leopard print coat and shadow plaid biker jacket are sharper with this strong shoulder.
STYLUST: What are your personal favorite looks?
Beth: I like the tuxedo cape over the tuxedo playsuit.
Charles: I really, really love the long coat. It just speaks to me. The length of it is very powerful. But there’s so much more; it’s really hard to just pinpoint one thing…