NEW YORK – An affinity for enduring sophistication and an understanding of craftsmanship – the qualities that define New York-based fashion designer Wes Gordon’s CFDA-nominated line also characterise his keen eye for interiors. Ahead of Sotheby’s auctions Collections: European Decorative Arts and Collections: Silver, Vertu, Ceramics and Russian Works of Art, we spoke with Gordon about the importance of quality, what clothing and furniture have in common and his favourite lots from the upcoming sales.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF WES GORDON
You’re known as a fashion designer who is forward-thinking, but who also appreciates classic qualities. Could you talk a bit about that? Are you informed by the past?
I think it’s less about being informed by the past than it is about trying to create something that will stay relevant – that is beautiful now and will still be beautiful in ten years.
So in a way it’s about seeing the common thread through the years.
Exactly. There’s definitely a commonality. Objects with a beautiful shape and clean lines can always look modern, even if they’re from the 16th century.
Could you describe your aesthetic in a few words?
What we try to do is elegance with ease. It’s something that’s sophisticated and romantic, but in a way that speaks to a modern, cosmopolitan woman who leads a busy, multifaceted life.
I understand that craftsmanship is also extremely important to you.
Yes, that’s something we really pride ourselves on. We work with extraordinary fabric mills that were producing couture fabrics in the 1940s and 1950s. It’s really about getting the best ingredients, and then the collection is designed to let those fabrics and materials shine. But I think it’s a lot like decorative arts or furniture. Pieces really work and stand the test of time when there’s that perfect marriage of material and design.
That’s really true. If you don’t have quality at the beginning, how can you achieve quality with the end product?
Also, the design and construction process have to work in harmony with those ingredients. You can’t just sketch any dress and grab any fabric and hope that they’re going to sing together. It’s the same with wood and a table.
WES GORDON FALL 2016 COLLECTION. PHOTO: KAT IRLIN.
Both in terms of what we wear and put in our home, why do you think people should consider buying something that’s more of a luxury instead of mass-produced?
The idea of something that’s unique and your own is becoming rarer and rarer. So the opportunities that we have to really embrace those things, whether it’s how you dress or the environment you create for yourself, are important. I think everyone should focus on creating and nurturing beauty. That’s such a huge part of our humanity. Listen, there’s something cool about the fact that you can wear a lace skirt from us with a $20 t-shirt or pair a $40 chair with a $40,000 table. That’s how people live now. It’s modern and it’s not precious. But you have to leave room to value and appreciate what’s special.
What are your thoughts on the conversation between design and fashion?
Clothing requires someone to wear it for it to come to life and serve its purpose. Otherwise it’s fabric. I think the same is true with interior design. Ultimately, you’re creating environments where people’s lives unfold. I think it’s fascinating, because to be done well, both need to evolve with people’s changing lifestyles. They both are dependent on the world at large.
Is there a period or style of design that you’re especially inspired by right now?
I think I speak for a lot of people my age when I say that we’re unconcerned about the period and other academic aspects of things that we like. I respond more on an aesthetic basis – to how something makes me feel or if it makes my heart beat faster, not because it’s Biedermeier or Louis XIV. The images I collect and pieces I buy are so eclectic. These are also things I say about fashion. You should only buy something if it speaks to you and represents you.
Click below to see which pieces from both Sotheby's Collections auctions caught Gordon's eye.