This past year, New York designer Lisa Perry celebrated the 10th anniversary of her women’s ready-to-wear collection. During the last decade, the designer has become synonymous with ’60s-inspired silhouettes, bright colors, and pop-art graphics. Her distinctive approach is immediately identifiable by details like colorblocking, circle pockets, and dot motifs. What she’s not necessarily known for: black. But, actually, Perry has been working with the noncolor since the beginning.
“Even though I’ve become known for pop colors, from day one I wanted black in the collection,” she says. “It’s always been part of my brand’s DNA. When it’s used in colorblocking, it can be very graphic. It’s all about how it’s incorporated.”
Here are few ways to do black, Lisa Perry–style (expertly modeled by the team at Barneys New York):
JUST ADD SHINE
Perry’s coated-cotton coat brings a glossy finish and crinkled texture to the traditional trench silhouette. It’s a material she’s been exploring since her very first collection. “I launched with a moto-style jacket called Snazzy, which drew on my love of the ’60s, when crinkled patent leather was really popular,” says Perry. “The trench is basically an elongated version of it, and doing it in black adds a sophisticated feel.” She keeps the look within her style family by adding white contrast zippers at the sleeves.
ALL ABOUT EASE
For many designers, black is a formal color; for Perry, it’s just another way to feel comfortable in your clothes. This black lambskin paperbag-waist skirt is polished and easy at the same time. The driving factor here: quality. “My background is in textiles, so the materials I work with are really important to me,” says Perry. “I look for fabrics that will stand the test of time.” Perry designed this leather skirt with a drawstring waist and side pockets to feel luxe and relaxed at once. Pair it with a bold fitted striped sweater for Perry’s classic graphic effect.
As famous as Perry is for her use of color, she is nearly as recognizable for her simple, A-line silhouettes. “I prefer classic, timeless shapes,” she says. “My clothes are ’60s-inspired, but I want them to be pieces you could wear now or in 10 years.” The A-line shape allows for easy movement and comfort, while fit-and-flare silhouettes—another Perry hallmark—flatter virtually every body type. Both are crafted from Perry’s luxe ponte knit fabric, one she chose specifically for its multi-season use. “When we started, I was all about this gorgeous double-knit wool jersey material,” she acknowledges. “It looked gorgeous, but it didn’t lend itself to multiple-season dressing, and that’s really how people shop now. You want a dress you can wear year-round. So, I made the switch.”
POCKETS ADD PERSONALITY
Keep all-black ensembles from getting too serious by adding a hint of color or contrasting details. “It could be anything from a hot-pink shoe to a necklace,” Perry says. “A pop of color changes the whole look.” Perry’s signature circular pockets serve a similar purpose. “Back when I started my collection, I was doing art—working with felt circles on canvas,” she relays. “Then, I started making clothes, and I was staring at these circles on canvas, and it was just like, Of course!” With this shift dress, the key is the white piping: not too heavy to overpower the look, but striking enough that it elevates your basic LBD to new levels. (Then, of course, there are the pockets themselves. Always thinking of comfort, Perry adds them to almost all of her styles.)
She’s known for her dresses, but her pants are hugely popular, too. “I used to wear a dress every single day to work,” admits Perry. “I just loved them. At some point, I figured out that my dresses look cute over pants. So, I started wearing them like tunics. Now, I just wear pants.” Black trousers and leggings are wardrobe staples, but Perry elevates the look by cutting her figure-flattering styles with a slim, cropped fit and subtle flare at the ankle. This leather pair is designed with a slit at the back ankle, another display of the designer’s unwavering focus on comfort.