Derek Lam is a fashion designer from San Francisco, California and is of Chinese parentage. Lam is the youngest of three children in his fourth-generation family. His parents had a business that imported clothes from Asia, and his grandparents ran a successful garment factory in San Francisco that specialized in bridal and wedding dresses. As a child he would sit with the seamstresses, “adoring the wedding gowns”.

After graduating from Parson School in 1990 of Design, Derek started out as an assistant for Michael Kors and worked there for four years. Lam then moved to Hong Kong to work for a large retail brand. Following his Hong Kong experience, Derek returned to New York and was appointed vice President of Designer with the Kors line.

In 2002, Lam stuck out on his own; with business partner Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, he debuted his eponymous line at Olympus Fashion Week—and buyers from Barney’s and Bergdorf Goodman placed orders almost immediately.

He debuted at the New York Fashion Week in September 2003, for the Spring/Summer 2004 collections.

In the same year, Lam won the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award for new designers, and was also nominated for the CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Fund for emerging designers. While he lost to Proenza Schouler, he was nominated for the CFDA Perry Ellis Swarovski Award for new designers in 2005—and this time, he won.

He now works with Tod’s to create ready-to-wear. Tod’s is now also licenced out to produce his bags and shoes.

The Look

He is known for his pretty, girly fabrics backed by clean, crisp silhouettes. Signature pieces include raw silk sheath dresses with plunging necklines, wide-leg trousers in various wools and dainty cashmere pea coats cinched with stiff silk belts.

Who Wears It

Barbara Bush, Jenna Bush, Jennifer Connelly, Olivia Chantecaille

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