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Katie Kay Looks to Lifestyle with Otto Gates

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, March 22, 2010, at 04:53PM
Katie Kay Eric Richardson [Flickr]

This weekend, Katie Kay spent some quality time with her sewing machine. The former Skingraft designer isn't scheduled to do her first runway presentation for new solo label Otto Gates until October, but tomorrow's installation at Concept Fashion Week will act as the unveiling for a brand that she hopes to expand beyond just clothing.

The name Otto Gates comes from a pair of family names, and Kay cites her roots as an increasingly major influence. "The more that I create, the more I understand how important where I came from is," she explains. "I was lucky that I felt good about the names that came out of it."

Her first collection will be "this Annie Hall, Gunne Sax thing meets Rick Owens and Junya Watanabe," Kay says. "More modern, sculptural things. Still a lot of black."

There will be nothing but black in her installation, which is titled "Love in the Time of Fast Fashion." Slaving over her sewing machine over the past few nights, Kay couldn't help but compare her several pieces per night to the millions of units turned out by Forever 21 and Walmart.

"I can do fast fashion too! But I can do fast fashion with a heart, just one woman and her design sense, sewing machine and no sleep."

In 2011, Kay hopes to add homewares and interior consulting to the Otto Gates brand. "I've come to realize that stylistically the interior of my studio and my home are as definitive of me as a person as the clothing that I own," she says.

Skingraft opened its boutique retail space and showroom on 4th street almost exactly one year ago, and Kay wants to repeat that idea with her new company. "It's the opportunity to create a world in which the clothes live and an experience for someone to have when they come that you don't get having a rack [in a showroom]."

Throughout her description of the concept is this sense of cohesiveness and beauty.

"It's like if I see a well-dressed man, and I see him take off his shoes and he's wearing white athletic socks... Ruined," she explains. "That's my analogy. When someone lives a lifestyle that's so beautifully designed and well-selected, it makes me feel like it's the real deal."

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