PHOTO BY BJORN LOOSS
"This is what I would want a woman to wear—what I would want my girlfriend to wear—what I think an intelligent woman should dress like to reflect her intellectual identity," says 27-year-old designer Alex Casertano of his eponymous line. Lucky girl, as evidenced by the sleek ready-to-wear collection he debuted during New York Fashion Week for Fall 2010. "It's definitely a modern collection that's defined by the everyday needs of a working woman who's interested in more progressive things," describes Casertano, which translates in the clothing as graphic elements and strong lines. "There's an emphasis on tailoring and things that are really built," Casertano explains, "Nothing too flashy."
The line incorporates a variety of fabrics, ranging from basic silks to complex weaves and chicards. Lurex is woven through many of the materials so that they take on an almost wet appearance. The pieces are exquisite, but meant to be worn. "They are not about fantasy," says Casertano. "These pieces are very much entrenched in reality." The collection saw an especially limited muted color pallete for girlfriends everywhere, with lots of gray scales. There was also an emphasis on separates and daywear, over eveningwear.
Just who is the man behind the seams? For his part, Casertano says he tries "to dress smartly and sharp... I think if you're a designer you should play the role a little bit." The Millbrook, New York, native has had his chance to prepare as an understudy. Before graduating from Amherst College with a BA in Fine Arts, he assisted painter-of-the-grotesque George Condo (who took his own fashionable turn with Adam Kimmel for Fall, conceptualizing masks for the models). First he spent a year at Parsons, and worked for both Yigal Azrouel and J. Crew as a menswear designer and then started his own line. But dressing men doesn't have the same potential for artfulness, he says: "I wanted to explore the possibility of fabrics and there's just a sort of playfulness in womenswear that I wanted," Casertano says. "In menswear it's hard to make a grand gesture. In men's wear if you try to make a grand gesture it can become cartoonish."