So have you started sketching bags yet?

I have a humongous folder of bag research.

Let’s talk about the spring 2014 collection you just showed in New York.

The whole concept came from this type of Japanese technique for clothing called boro, which I had been thinking about for a long time, because I love the idea of beauty and humility, which is close to a Japanese philosophy called wabi sabi. Japanese fisherman would have one piece of cotton clothing over their lives that would be mended, and that the mending would become ornamentation, but not purposefully. Over the span of a lifetime, you’d get garments that were stitched and patched beautifully. The garments are very difficult to find, at least in the U.S. But we found one from the early 19th century, which we then used for print development. We sent it to get hi-def photographed, then pieced all the photos together digitally to make the print. It’s silk but it reads as a luxe alternative to denim.

What about the looks that look like liquid gold?

There’s actually metal thread in that fabric, and it’s based on a vintage 1930s dress. There’s one factory in Italy that has a machine to weave it. And it has amazing drape and reflection of light.

I loved your take on le smoking, too.

The silhouette of the tuxedo jacket is a little more masculine, so we wanted to add something that felt feminine in a subtle way. We had fine satin ribbons embroidered, and used them as closures on jackets.

Who are your mentors?

Anna Wintour has been a fairy godmother from the very beginning. When I started, I didn’t even have a formal presentation, I just sent emails to people to come and see the collection. I think I sent the ones to Vogue at 1 a.m., and by 1:30 a.m. they had already responded. They have this incredible curiosity about new talent in New York, which is a large part of why I moved there in the first place. I’ve always felt that’s a real strength of American fashion. In Italy or France, there’s a rejection or fear of youth. But the U.S. has learned to embrace it and grow strong businesses from the ground up, like Rag & Bone or Proenza Schouler. Carine has been incredibly influential and our retailers, too. Barneys bought our first collection. In a lot of ways, retailers will give you the tough love that editors won't, and it helps you grow.

ALSO:

New York Fashion Week Spring 2014: Joseph Altuzarra review

Proenza Schouler expanding with new products, New York store

British-born designers behind Rag & Bone make their mark on Melrose

booth.moore@latimes.com