Seattle designer Cameron Levin scored a pretty cool role with the downtown retailer Butch Blum. Officially, her title is desinger and stylist in residence and e-commerce curator. The second part will snap into action soon, when the shop moves down the street to Sixth and Union and simultaneously launches a new shopping site (what? yes; stay tuned, we'll cover it all), but the hands-on fashion aspect has been in play for some time now. In fact, she's been hard at work on the sketching, patterning, and production end of a sort of local designer collaboration.
This March and April, Butch Blum will release its first-ever in-house brand, B-Line. The premiere collection is called Blanca. Levin's women's ready-to-wear designs are made in part with hemps, organic cottons and other non-pesticide sprayed fibers and represent the first such project in the store's 40-year history.
Here's a look at the styles and some insight from Levin.
How did the idea of designing a line for Butch Blum develop?
I originally started at Butch Blum styling for events and also for their commercial publications. The idea about a capsule collection came about after my Ruby collection debuted. Not to speak for [Butch Blum CEO] Kay Smith-Blum, but I think the line resonated with her and the idea to reach out to the up-and-coming 30-something market of young professional women.
What was your general inspiration when approaching the silhouettes and colors for the pieces?
The Blanca collection features complete, interchangeable looks. When I design, I always think of a woman and a destination. "Chelsea" was New York, "Sati" was the desert, "Ruby" was Spain, and "Blanca" is coastal Italy. In my mind, I had this vision of a city girl zipping around the narrow streets of coastal Italy in a vintage Vespa on a spring or summer evening.
I imagine you had to edit that inspiration in some ways, simply because you were working with a very specific audience. Can you talk about how it was different than designing your previous collections?
Yes, I did have to think a bit outside of my usual instincts and consider the Butch Blum client. A specific example is the rectangle panel pant [shown below]. It is, essentially, a pleated, mild form of a harem pant—very on-trend, but for Butch Blum, I've taken out the extremity of the drape and bulk in the hip, crotch, and taper. It's a nod to the motif, without being trendy or over-done. Butch Blum has been so successful for the past 39 years because they've mastered the art of selection; their pieces are artistic and interesting but not ubiquitous. A garment you buy at Butch Blum is an investment piece. For this collection I had to think, "Is this something that a woman could wear in five to 10 years?"
If you were to make an outfit from current Butch Blum offerings utilizing one of your pieces and something from another line in the shop (since most of us don't dress head to toe in one designer), can you describe what that would be like?
I would say a fitted tank from Fuzzi, an Italian-owned company that licenses to Jean Paul Gaultier for a great line of stretch-tulle separates, in summer or a Margiela cashmere sweater in the fall would pair beautifully with the panel pants. To that end, any of Margiela's knit dresses would pair beautifully with my Tobillo leggings for some extra layering. The square top or cowl top would go easily with any of D'Exterior's fitted pencil skirts, too.