All in the family: Texan George Carr launches fashion line at Saks to honor latedesigner brother
Zack Carr is a fashion powerhouse you’ve likely never heard of. The Texas-born fashion designer served as Calvin Klein’s creative director and “right hand” for nearly three decades, helping to craft the sophisticated, spare design aesthetic for which Calvin Klein is known. Passionate about fashion throughout his lifetime, Carr worked with a slew of boldfaced names, from Isabella Rossellini and Christy Turlington to Anna Sui, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and renowned photographer Bruce Weber.
When he died in 2000 at age 55 of a rare blood disorder, he left, well, a lot of stuff. His fashion archive was stocked with letters, photos, memorabilia and sketchbooks. Lots and lots of sketchbooks.
Carr’s brother George wondered what to do with all of it.
George decided to donate much of the archive to Parsons School of Design in New York. In 2002, he published a book about his brother. And he’d hoped to mount some sort of exhibition, when a friend looked at the 50 sketchbooks and diaries, with page after page of sleekly drawn clothing, and stated flat out: "You have a brand here. Call it Carr."
George, a writer, actor and all-around entrepreneur, didn’t have to be told twice. Hitting stores this month are two lines inspired by his brother's sketches.
The menswear manages to balance a clean, Calvin Klein-ish cut with tweedy Ralph Lauren-like romance and the Carrs’ Texas heritage.
Carr Collection, a chic and understated womenswear line reminiscent of Theory and — not surprisingly — Calvin Klein, debuts at select Bloomingdale’s stores, while Carr Men launches at six Saks Fifth Avenue locations.
"I believe our Carr team has completely translated the line as Zack would have wanted it — not for then but for now,” George told Women’s Wear Daily.
The Carr team includes George Carr, serving as director for both lines; Dallas businessman Edward Jones III, as chairman; and Scott Formby, who cut his teeth as a designer at Geoffrey Beene, J. Crew and Lucky Jeans.
The results for both lines are impressive, particularly the menswear, which manages to balance a clean, Calvin Klein-ish cut with tweedy Ralph Lauren-like romance — and the Carrs’ Texas heritage.
The independent spirit of the Texas Rangers and the great Southwest can be felt in the accessories, including pendants and belts with silver buckles in the shape of fences, branding irons and cow skulls, which the Carrs used to collect as kids.
Silversmith Clint Orms, of Ingram, Texas, oversees the metalwork. “Clint is a true artisan, a gentleman and gentle soul,” George says.
He’s also a hometown pal. The Carr boys — including Zack and younger brothers George and Peter, who is not in the fashion industry — grew up near Orms in Kerrville, in the Hill Country due west of Austin.
Even more important, Orms understood the Carr aesthetic, which is rich in Texas pride and Southwest elements — but “no fringe, no embroidery,” George Carr states emphatically.
Prices are not exactly down-home fare: Suits range from $1,195 to $1,695; blazers start at $795; trousers are priced from $295; sweaters start at $325; and shirts are priced $195 and up.
What would brother Zack think of this new menswear line? After all, he never actually designed menswear. His sketchbooks are full of women’s clothing, and his own eponymous line — which lasted a few years in the 1980s — was a collection of women’s sportswear.
“I think he would look so handsome in it,” George says. “Actually, I think he would be thrilled.”