St. John Takes the Ready-to-Wear Runway For the First Time at Denver Fashion Week

The timeless American luxury fashion house, St. John, has been a trailblazer in the world of ready-to-wear since its conception in 1962. Robert and Marie Gray launched the brand 61 years ago with an iconic knit shift dress that catapulted the fashion house to global notoriety. Through the decades, one thing remains the same — St. John brings timeless, elegant designs to the runway.

This fall, St. John’s ready-to-wear designs will be front and center as the Irvine, Calif.-based fashion powerhouse descends upon Denver for Denver Fashion Week (DFW) on Saturday, November 11 from 7-11 p.m.

Tickets are now available for the chance to see the brand worn by A-listers ranging from Angelina Jolie, Gigi Hadid, Lupita Nyong’o, Kate Winslet, Sarah Jessica Parker and Zendaya. 

Get your Ready to Wear tickets here
Images courtesy of St. John. Model: Karen Elson

As ready-to-wear steals the spotlight at DFW, what is there to know about this genre of design? Going straight to the source — an interview with newly appointed Executive Vice President of Design for St. John, Enrico Chiarparin offers insight into the essence of ready-to-wear fashion.

READ: Night Four of DFW Sparks Imaginative Ready-To-Wear Attire

Chiarparin, boasting over 25 years of industry expertise working with global luxury brands, brings a wealth of experience to St. John. His design journey started in 1992 as the Men’s designer for Trussardi in Italy. He soon landed prominent roles working with industry giants like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, James Perse, Moncler and Prada. His first collection for St. John debuted in Spring 2023. 

“Every creation, every garment that I create, or that my team creates, makes me proud,” Chiarparin said. “I’m attached to every single piece I’ve done in my career. You put so much of yourself into designing and it’s very personal.”

Chiarparin was brought onto the St. John team to develop the Foundation collection which launched a year ago.

“It is based on the building blocks of a woman’s wardrobe — so her “must-have” items from denim to blouses to a LBD. The idea is that women no longer need to wear a head-to-toe tweed suit to court, they can, but many choose not to,” Chiarparin said. “This was a great project to create these pieces we want women to rely on us for and really tapped into my experience having worked for Donna Karan and Calvin Klein. Our Foundation pairs perfectly with our main line and allows more styling options for women to feel unique.”

Ready-to-Wear Defined

The definition of ready-to-wear is directly in the name, however, as Chiarparin describes it goes much deeper than simply clothes that are ready for the clothes rack. Ready-to-wear is manufactured to standard sizes and sold as a finished good in stores. It differs from made-to-measure in that it’s created from a pattern and not for an individual figure.

 “For me, it’s the future of fashion. Clothes that, unlike customized and unique couture pieces, are not made for a specific client and you can buy them in a variety of sizes and colors,” Chiarparin said. “You must be aware of the current market while trying to predict trends and business opportunities for the near future.”

 “Understanding the current business of the company is important in knowing who you are designing the clothes for, and how to move things forward with respect to the original brand DNA,” He added.

Chiarparin’s Fall 2023 and Resort 2024 Outlook

The runway at DFW will be featuring St. John’s Fall 2023 and Resort 2024 designs. Guests can expect the timeless looks that St. John touts, and this year with an emphasis on the details.

“The Fall 2023 Collection is a reimagination of iconic styles with an innovative approach and impressive attention to detail. As an American heritage brand, St. John is renowned for proprietary fabrics with distinctive details,” Chiarparin said.

As an example, he explains that tonal weeds appear in lighter weights. Sweaters are felted and brushed for an extra-plush texture. Garments have raw edges and exposed darts and seams, with flourishes of quilting, leather, studs, crystal cut-outs, and buttons inspired by archival jewelry.

“It’s the classics with a twist,” Chiarparin said. “This fall we’re celebrating modern knits, signature embellishments, bold tones, prints as neutrals, and the styling touches our clients will bring to these legendary looks.”

Images courtesy of St. John. Model: Karen Elson

Balancing Creativity and Commercial Viability

When creating ready-to-wear lines, designers must both satisfy creativity and harmonize with the demands of the consumer market. It must fit the box of being accessible, wearable, and alluring to a broad audience. So, how has St. John managed to do this over the decades?

“This can be a challenge, but balance is important, I have an extensive background with some top commercial brands, so I use my understanding of the fashion market, trends, and consumer needs, while also listening to feedback from our team,” Chiarparin noted when asked about the balance of creativity and market trends.

“It is a constant process of research to keep updated on new materials, techniques, and innovation. The process of the selection of the materials is a bit like the approach of a painter, an architect, or even a chef,” He said. “I focus on the selection and the combination of ingredients like colors, fabrics, and trims that all make sense together. The “practical” side is something that comes with the experience and with the knowledge of how a fabric drapes, or performs, how it moves and behaves when cut or sewn in a certain way.” 

Ready-to-Wear Trend Prediction

There’s no doubt that the world of fashion is fast-paced and predicting the next wave of trends can be a dynamic process. Each season brings different landscapes and interpretations. It goes beyond a crystal ball to predict trends, it takes insight from those in the industry who have seen the cycles of trends. St. John has successfully managed to do this while staying true to its brand and audience.

“As seen on the runway for Spring/Summer ’24, ready to wear is very minimalist right now, getting back to items real women can wear every day. This isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, but it’s very much what is needed — and what St. John does so well with our craftsmanship and attention to detail. Some call it quiet luxury, but again, it’s more about helping our client feel confident and amazing in any situation,” said Chiarparin when asked about ready-to-wear trend predictions.

Chiarparin also notes that it’s less about logos and more about fit, quality, and confidence, with a timeless ease. All while making it work for your own sense of style.

Images courtesy of St. John. Model: Karen Elson

Insight for Future Ready-to-Wear Designers

The fashion industry is always looking towards the future and in search of the next big thing. Chiarparin’s last piece of advice for those wanting to make their mark in the industry as he has?

“To me, the most important thing I would recommend is to work for a lot of different designers and companies,” He said. “In this world, there are no written rules, every designer and every company has their own way, their own vision to create a process, a system, a style, and all these different approaches help you. The more you experience the better. It helps you to grow as an individual designer, and little by little you create your own identity. You never stop learning.”

Witness the architectural beauty of ready-to-wear fashion and immerse in an evening of inspiration at York Street Yards (3827 Steele Street, Denver, Colo. 80205) this November 11. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see the classic looks of St. John as models strut the runway.

Mark those calendars and get your Ready to Wear tickets now.

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