Interview With Chadwick Bell, Our Favorite New Designer To Watch

by DASHA BRIL · February 27, 2009

Chadwick BellChadwick Bell, an up-and-coming young designer and his business partner Vanessa Webster are the minds behind Chadwick Bell, a fashion house that the two friends dreamt up years ago. Chadwick designed the stunning cashmere-silk gown that Rachelle wore to the Frick Collection Young Fellow's Ball last night, and today the super-sweet duo were kind enough to answer some questions about his collection and its inspiration (looks from the Fall 2009 collection, which landed on one of  this past Fashion Week's WWD covers, were based entirely upon Catherine Deneuve's character the French cinema classic "Belle de Jour").

How did you get started in fashion? Chadwick_I've always been thinking like a designer. Though my first experiences were mimicking the French, Russian born Painter Erte.

How did you meet each other and do you have separate roles? Vanessa-We met each other in middle school, and dreamt of starting a fashion house when we were 17. We founded the ideas of the company together, but have separate roles--he handles creative decisions and I manage the company.

Chadwick Bell

Your Fall 2009 collection was based on Catherine Deneuve’s character in “Belle du Jour.” Do you often find inspiration in the cinema? Can you tell us what inspires you? Vanessa- The past two seasons were named after women, Spring 09 was titled Slim, and last season was Severine. Chadwick is inspired mostly by music which puts him in a mood to sketch, but the collections come together through specific scenes we visualize the Chadwick Bell woman getting herself into. Sometimes the scenes are taken out of books, and other times from film.

Who is the ideal client you design for? Chadwick_A woman who will come to over to buy couture based garments then take the subway home.

Who are some of your favorite designers? Chadwick_Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy. Yves Saint Laurent.

Which current trends in fashion do you love? Which current trends in fashion do you hate? Chadwick_I love the boyfriend jacket with narrow trousers. I think masculine and untried. There's an ease to it that I try to approach in my clothing. I'm not a fan of uggs and croc's. There's a saying that you can always judge a man by his shoes; the same should go for women.

You grew up in California but are now based in New York. What are some differences in style that you see over here versus on the West Coast? Do you consider yourself a Californian or a New Yorker? Chadwick_I'll always claim heritage to California. There's a leisurely quality found in California that's inspiring when choosing fabrics and thinking of designs for spring / summer collections. It would be easier to say that the differences in style between the two coasts are too extensive to list.

Tell us some of your favorite places in New York. Mogador, east village. Jacks coffee, west village. Moon River Chattel, Williamsburg brooklyn. Commune Salon, Williamsburg Brooklyn

The best part about my job is… Setting up the showroom when the samples are finished. There's a newness to fashion that is so addicting.

To me style means... awareness... of one's self and the times.