28-year-old, fashion designer Chris Benz has only had his own label for just over four years, but despite his pink hair and youthful demeanor, Benz has managed to dress some pretty impressive ladies - Michelle Obama, Susan Sarandon, Debbie Harry and Eva Amurri to name a few. But, there is one star who has proven to be quite elusive. “I can’t stop talking about Carol Channing,” he says, his arms motioning wildly. “I just love her, and it drives everyone crazy. She looks fabulous and so fun. She can wear color and lives in Palm Springs,” he adds practically squealing. “We send her an invitation to the show every season, but she’s never been!” What it would mean for her to actually attend a show? Benz promptly answers, “A dream.”
Still, Benz admits, like many other designers, that Mrs. Obama’s appearance probably caused the most fanfare. “It was a total surprise,” he said of the June “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” taping in which she wore the green and blue Nelda frock from his Resort 2012 collection. “I was leaving the gym, and there were like a million emails on my Blackberry. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Of course, I thought something terrible happened, but it was her - the holy grail of fashion wearing my dress. It was such a special moment for me and everyone that works here.” Benz will get to play that momentum forward again when the episode finally airs in October, but for now his focus is on his Spring 2012 show.
“We love that free-spirited, world traveler look,” he says pointing to a collage of images that include vintage Anjelica Houston and Beatles photographs. “It’s sort of a continuation of Resort, but a little more ethnic.” Editors, retailers and eventually customers can come to expect Benz’s classic shapes in mixed florals and ikats come September. Benz elaborates, “we love the thrill of the exotic in that kind of romantic way.”
While those details are squared away, Benz is still unsure of the location of his show a mere weeks before. “We’re still figuring out space, but we have to find something that’s bigger than the Rubenstein. I keep saying Madison Square Garden, but haven’t gotten any takers.”
Keep reading for more on Benz’s spring collection, love of color and how he decorated his office: