Up-and-coming menswear designer, Greg Lagola is a new “engineer” of men’s fashion. He re-invents conventional luxury clothing by using sometimes uncommon fabrics and unusual seaming and patterns while maintaining high elegance. His collections are available for viewing at www.greglagola.com.
Lagola talked to us about his unique approach, fashion trends, style…
Men’s Flair: Can you tell us a little bit about your previous work and what are your current interests?
Greg Lagola: I started out in the theatre business here in New York as a shopper for a costume house, which basically means I was out in the market all day looking for fabrics to match the designer’s sketches. Shortly thereafter I entered the business as a design assistant for Liz Claiborne in the dress division and have been in the business ever since – about 20 years now! I’ve worn many hats over that period of time, all of which have contributed in some way to where I am now and the decisions I’ve made to get here. Now, I’m very focused on developing my particular brand and having people learn about what I’m trying to bring to the market. At the moment, I’m very interested in new fabric technologies and manufacturing, which I hope will have impact on the product and keep it as modern as possible.
How did you discovered that what you really wanted to do was “build” clothes, instead of houses, since you first studied Architecture?
Actually, it was a combination of things. I realized that building models wasn’t something that interested me very much and the disconnect between the idea and the finished project was too great. With apparel, the results of your design labors were more immediate, which seemed to suit my sensibilities better.
Who are the people that inspired you and why?
In no particular order: Paul Jacques Grillo, Erte, Geoffrey Beene, Antonio Gaudi, Matsuda, my Parents. All in some way for the same reason; have a point of view, believe in what you do, never stop working towards that end, and try not to worry about what other people are doing. I don’t really have any idols.
How do you define style and fashion?
Actually, I think of them as being very similar nowadays in that lots of fashion design is really styling and vice-versa. Both are referential and to a large extent derivative. The opposite of that of course is design, meaning ideas and concepts existing for their own sake and not reliant on outside sources for their validity.
What is the main fashion philosophy of Greg Lagola?
To design beautiful clothes from pure concept to finished garment, independent of trends and gimmicks, and to build a body of work that stands the test of time.
How would you describe your Fall 2006 collection?
How would you define men’s fashion today?
Confused. There are great things happening here and there, but I feel there’s a lack of design inspiration, that has made everything look very much the same, save for differences in proportion. In effect though, most of the clothes are very similar – separated only by price.
What do you see as the trend in men’s fashion in years ahead?
It’s hard to say of course, but it’s reasonable to assume that men’s fashions going forward will parallel and keep pace with changes in lifestyle; greater mobility, an increase in computer technologies which may affect fiber technologies, not to mention a strong movement towards sustainability and green fabrics and fibers which I see as an important part of my business as I seek to expand the collection.
Since Men’s Flair is all about practical advices, what would be your shopping suggestion for our readers to update their style this fall?
Concentrate a couple of key pieces; a great blazer with some clever detail, a cool dress shirt in a great fabric or with an interesting cut or detail, a new outerwear piece that can instantly change your whole look with just one garment. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a lot of clothes. It’s better to spend the same amount of money on a couple of items here or there which will give you a lot more “style” return for your dollar.
At the end, give as one piece of style advice.
Be true to yourself! If you’re not comfortable the second you try something on then it’s probably not for you. I do not believe there’s any one way to be stylish. In fact, in the end I think there’s nothing more stylish, and sexy, than someone who’s comfortable in their own skin, no matter what they put on to cover it…