It is Chris’s fuchsia hair, his #1 accessory of the moment, that is the dead giveaway to his “bad boy at the country club” aesthetic. That neon color is a much-needed twist to the tireless classics that fill his wardrobe, like his favorite staple: a shrunken navy Brooks Brothers’ boys’ blazer that he loves so much he wears it to the gym and had it replicated in mink. (Chris loves how the sleeves are short enough to wear bracelets.) Growing up on Bainbridge Island in the Pacific Northwest was, for such a visual kid, eclectic eye-candy, a perfect cross-section between the preppy “water and sailboats” crowd and the dark grunge of Seattle, with a hippie constituency in the mix. It isn’t unlike the Twilight movies, he says, “It looks exactly like that– dewy, very Twin Peaks.” It was the perfect setting for the latent designer in Chris, to imagine in his clothing designs his love for the colorful American eccentric like Slim Aarons, the female counterpart to the rebellious, upper-class Holden Caulfield in him.
At 7 or 8, wearing neon bike shorts with an over-sized Ocean Pacific shirt tied up ’80s style and crazy, fake color-blocked loafers in pastel blue, yellow, and ivory, Chris remembers his childhood love for the shock of the new. “I feel like it’s good to be an early adopter of anything that seems fresh.” Some of the things Chris ends up liking most he hated at first. In his studio, he and his employees coined a phrase for their new collection: “Hate Equals Love.” Today, he wears mismatched Church’s spectator oxfords that perfectly offset his tattered standards. Of his Comme des Garcons brogues with cartoon characters all over them, Chris was, at first, horrified, but in the end they are the balance that an Army/Navy Tee shirt needs to look interesting. It is those love-and-hate pieces, he feels, that re-energize your wardrobe, stretch the palate, and create the new norms.
Chris designs and dresses for the idea that everything in your closet should be able to stand on it’s own. His perfectly-worn essentials, like a rope belt, layers of chambray shirts, shredded Levi’s, a vintage French work wear jacket and Australian army fatigues are made his with unusual accents like a Commes wallpaper-print blazer, Rick Owens wedge boots and luxe drop-crotch sweatpants. His use of the tried and true as a rich backdrop to the new and novel, reminds me of how he uses gray on his walls to highlight his extensive and multi-faceted collection of ceramics, books, and art. But, like his dreamy Dries velvet-gold slippers which could be worn with a tux or with beat-up, perfectly rolled khakis, Chris believes that everything should make you feel like you’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt, whether you’re in an evening gown or on the front stoop.