Trina Turk and Jonathan Adler Talk Shop
by jonathan adler
Trina Turk makes me happy. To see a gorgeous girl rocking a Trina Turk frock is like hearing the clang of the ice cream truck or smelling the first-mown grass of spring. Her colors are “ka-pow!” Her patterns are electric, and her vibe is always on point. She brings out the eccentric glamour in every girl. What could be better? I had the pleasure of talking with the fashion designer about vintage dashikis and her seasonal East Hampton boutique, which is the ultimate supply store for groovy Hamptonites in search of a bit of sexy glamour at the beach.
Jonathan Adler: So, TT, you are an aesthetic connoisseur. Your references are always nuanced, surprising, and spot-on. I want to know: What inspired your summer collection?
Trina Turk: Our summer collection was inspired by this woman who travels around, collects things as she goes, and throws her outfits together— the “gyp-setter” concept. She collects accessories because they’re easy to put in a carry-on. Then she jumbles all of this stuff together from many different places. Of course, it’s very print-driven, since we love prints, and it has a little bit of Jaipur, India kind of vibe.
JA: When you talked about this woman did you give her a name?
TT: It was Rashni, a woman I worked w ith when I t raveled to India. She sometimes wore traditional saris and sometimes wore western clothing, so she’s a good representative of our girl who travels the world, picking up items, and then mixing them in an interesting way. Since our prints for summer have a bit of an Indian vibe, I thought she would be a good muse.
JA: What color is making your chakras tingle right now?
TT: Purplish fuchsia. We did one print that combines fuchsias, magentas, and purples, and I’ve really just been wearing this one dress to death.
JA: What did you wear to your prom?
TT: I wore a dress of my own design. It was a teal disco camisole and tulip hemmed wrap skirt that my father especially thought was slutty. It was 1979. I wore a ton of colorful eye makeup to accent the teal of my dress, and it was a very disco moment.
JA: And are you proud or mortified?
TT: Actually, it was a style statement. I’m proud. I wore it with my mother’s complicated leather jacket—one of those jackets from the ’70s with so many pockets and belts and straps. I thought it looked pretty hot!
JA: Let’s hear about your swimwear. How did you become the grande dame of swimwear?
TT: We delved into crazy hardware on swimwear. It’s basically about taking my vast collection of jewelry from the ’60s and ’70s, which has a bit of an organic feel, and shrinking it down into mini-hardware pieces that replace your basic gold ring on a swimsuit.
JA: Well, it worked.
TT: It was a natural progression into swimwear because we do print and color, but I think what caught everybody’s attention was the hardware in the women’s line. If you’re a surfer, it’s not good, so we offer suits that do not have hardware. But, if all you do is lull around on the beach or by the pool, it’s perfect. We started off doing some silver and some gold, but people just love gold.
JA: I love that you bring Palm Springs to the Hamptons and let the Hamptons bring the ocean to Palm Springs in your collection. Who do you hope pops into your Hamptons boutique? And is there anybody you would kick out?
TT: Oh no, we wouldn’t kick out anybody. When your first store is in Palm Springs, you learn very quickly that anybody—no matter how old or crazy they seem—could have a daughter-in-law or son-inlaw, and you have to give everybody the happy Trina Turk experience whether they buy something or not so they come back.
JA: What can you tell us about your new approach to your Hamptons store this summer?
TT: We are doing a beach shack concept, and we’re emphasizing all of the swimwear more than the regular ready-to-wear section. Not that there isn’t any apparel in there; there actually is ready-to-wear, but we’re keeping the swim in the front and making it more of a swim shop. I’ve been collecting all of these vintage caftans, dashikis, and printed royal Pakistani tunics. This guy had all this ’70s-inspired stuff—crazy Jimi Hendrix dashikis in all sizes and all colors; they’re brand new. To me that’s so exciting. I’m wearing a dashiki all summer. Color-wise they’re very subdued, not exactly our color sense, but there’s pretty royal tunics and dresses that have border prints in shades of black with hints of little grays and blues. So there this vintage component to what we have in the store, which I think is really cool. There is swimwear and vintage jewelry in addition to our own jewelry, beach towels, and tote bags.
JA: How fantastic! Ok, well, I can’t wait to see. Ok, my final question: How would you describe your brand in three words?
TT: Optimistic is definitely my one important word. California. And vibrant
JA: Vibrant! That makes my chakras tingle. I love it! 79 Main St., East Hampton, 324-7075