by julie earle-levine | March 5, 2012 | People
Douglas Hannant with his partner, Frederick Anderson
Douglas Hannant prides himself on his loyal client base of Upper East Side ladies. Today, however, the superstar designer is reaching out to a new group of women who recently may have only dreamed of wearing his designs. The hotly anticipated launch this month of his contemporary line, Douglas Hannant Pink, available at Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and specialty stores, is a major milestone for Hannant, whose brand has grown over the last 15 years to an enterprise that is valued at more than $30 million and has attracted such stylish followers as Valesca Guerrand-Hermès, Alexandra Lebenthal, and Julia Koch.
His main collection, which he describes as ready-to-wear, ranges from $500 to $5,000; Hannant’s couture gowns range from $4,000 to $30,000 each. In sharp contrast, his new Pink collection retails for $75 to $800. The impetus to launch Pink came when Hannant was in the Hamptons and some of his top clients would apologize for wearing other labels.
“I would go to the Hamptons, and ladies would say, ‘I wanted to wear you, but you are too dressy,’” says Hannant, adding that many evenings in the Hamptons are very casual, so ladies need an easier, less precious way of dressing. He decided to create Pink, which he describes as a sporty lifestyle collection for the woman who is feminine, flirtatious, cool, and chic. “Women don’t want to look fussy,” he says. “That means no logos,” echoes Hannant’s partner, Frederick Anderson. “Women want luxury, and luxury really is the fabric and cut.
Acknowledging that women long ago stopped wearing the same designer head-to-toe, Hannant created Pink’s 120 interchangeable separates, including lace minis and cardigans, sweet bowtie shorts, and mid-thigh shifts, to be intermixed. “Women want their own style,” says the designer, who plans to expand the line to include shoes, scarves, and glasses. “They want the jacket but not the suit.”
The launch of Pink is bringing other exciting new opportunities for Hannant and Anderson. “We’re finally at a place where investors are seeing value in the brand,” says Anderson. The Douglas Hannant brand, run by Anderson, is launching lingerie for Fall 2013 as well as swimwear (Sami Souid owns the license for Pink lingerie and swimwear). Douglas Hannant has signed an agreement to open stores in China with the F&T Group and is currently scouting locations, while Robert Piguet Parfums is planning to launch the next Douglas Hannant fragrance in 2013.
Hannant first entered the world of fashion as an assistant window dresser under Simon Doonan at Barneys New York. In the fall of 1996, he launched his debut collection of 40 pieces—chic, modern separates and a few gowns. The pieces, displayed in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman (Hannant had decided not to pursue Barneys since Bergdorf Goodman was a client), caught the attention of legendary designer Geoffrey Beene, whom Hannant considers a mentor. Beene invited him to use his showroom for his first runway show in 1998. In September 2009, Hannant opened his first stand-alone boutique at The Shops at The Plaza; his second location, on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, opened in December.
Anderson believes Pink’s more casual, yet still polished designs will attract a new, younger consumer as the market bounces back and the influence of stylish 30-somethings like Kate Middleton continues to grow. “She’s fabulous!” says Anderson of the Duchess of Cambridge. “Young people are dressing up again, and I think we are seeing a return to glamour.”
Like Hannant’s main collection, Pink will also be timeless and ageless. “It doesn’t go out of style,” says Hannant. “I don’t like trendy clothing; to me, good design should last forever.” The Plaza, Fifth Ave. at Central Park S., 212-872-1701
photography by Gregg Delman