Exclusive Peek at Joseph Altuzarra’s Intimate Interview in Surface

by Kristen Heinzinger
Altuzarra

Altuzarra

After winning rave reviews for his knockout Fall ’16 womenswear collection at NYFW, Joseph Altuzarra is certainly the designer du moment. Surface magazine sat down with the creative mastermind to discuss a few off-runway topics, from college days, his swoon-worthy engagement story, and friendship. In an exclusive preview, The Daily rounds up a few highlights. For the full interview, check out Surface mag’s Spring Fashion Issue, out March 8.

He once flaked on Anna Wintour…
“I was supposed to meet and present my collection to her the day after flying from Paris to New York, but the airline lost everything. She was gracious about rescheduling and has been an incredible supporter ever since. She called and got us into places like Barneys and Dover Street Market and really helped to launch the Altuzarra brand.”

He decided to attend Swarthmore College in the U.S. for a very particular reason…
“I happened to see the film Ten Things I Hate About You [1999] in which the star ends up at Sarah Lawrence College. I looked it up online, and a box popped up saying, ‘If you like this school, you’ll also like Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams, Brown, and Haverford…’ It was an incredible experience, as it was the first time I found my community—I was always nerdy in high school, and I finally felt free and surrounded by people like me.”

The never-before-published details of his engagement are real-life #relationshipgoals…
“Every Saturday morning we walk our dog, Bean, and one of us goes for coffee and the newspapers. On this particular Saturday, Seth went out, changed into a tuxedo, and put a ‘Will you marry me?’ collar on the dog. I said yes, of course, and was greeted by the Swarthmore a cappella group singing “A Whole New World.” From there we went to Soho House for a surprise engagement brunch for 100 friends. The entire day was spectacular.”

He expanded his brand for certain collabs, like with the New York City Ballet…
“That collaboration came about through a summer share in Fire Island several years ago. My husband and I were in a house with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, who was working with the New York City Ballet at the time. I’ve always loved ballet and studied dance throughout my childhood, so when he asked if I might be interested in designing costumes I jumped at the chance. I went to all of the rehearsals and saw the choreography in progress, and we came up with a very American, casual look for this piece, one that was all about light, flirty garments that would highlight the movement of the dancers.”

A few favorite films provide ongoing inspiration for his designs…
“One film that was particularly important was Si Versailles m’était conté [Royal Affairs in Versailles (1957)]. I watched this sprawling epic about life at Versailles over and
over again, and the campy evolution of the costumes fascinated me. I also loved anything with Audrey Hepburn— Sabrina [1954] was a favorite—and tended toward less mainstream films as a teenager. Orlando [1992] had a huge effect on me because it was more ambiguous in its narrative.”

On why he lays low rather than indulge in the flashy fashion scene…
“Part of it comes from knowing that the fashion world is fickle. I want my happiness to be predicated on things outside of the industry. I think it’s important to have deep, real, long-lasting friendships that I don’t have to put on Instagram. I’m lucky to have friends who are true and constant.”

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