Tagging Along with Trina Turk
by Wendy Schmid
California really is all sunshine and beach days for Trina Turk, who’s translated SoCal’s vibrant landscape into her signature aesthetic of brilliant-hued prints seen on everything from womenswear to home décor. Between running the business with her photographer hubby, Jonathan Skow, and her new fashion collaboration with Banana Republic, the design superstar proves you really can do it all.
9:30 am Trina Turk 3rd Street Store, LA Trina
Turk, 51, breezes into her namesake store as vibrant and cheerful as her designs, her chic Louise Brooks bob swinging with each stride. Neat black eyeliner and deep coral lips accent her fiery silk blouse (last year’s) and houndstooth pants (new for Fall). She drops her orange Givenchy bag on a chair and sets about the business at hand, pulling clothes for actress Perrey Reeves, who needs a few key pieces for New York—where she’s shooting a film—and Costa Rica, where she’ll visit her new yoga retreat, The Sanctuary at Two Rivers. Minutes later they hug hello, and some impromptu modeling begins.
Reeves swings the dressing room door open dramatically. “It’s a Trina special,” she says, revealing Turk’s purple and fuchsia Amrita maxi. Turk laughs. “I know; my husband keeps Instagramming me in that dress.” (She and Reeves follow each other on the photo-sharing site.) “We’re not big into social media,” Turk says, “but Instagram is visual and fun.”
“I’ll wear this to a Hamptons party,” says Reeves, now in Turk’s orange eyelet B-52 shift, which Turk is tailoring to fit. “I love its shape.”
“It just needs a nip right here,” Turk says, pinning the waist. Another yes: The Amelie dress, a short sunset-yellow halter with gold studs—perfect for a not-too-fancy red carpet or a balmy eve in the jungle. The favorite, though, is the Rowena, a one-shoulder floor-duster in black and blush-striped jersey.
“I want to wear this in the movie,” says Reeves, twirling. The Hamptons Anorak gets added to the mix as a travel jacket, and she’s set. “Now I [look like] New York; I’m excited.” Reeves heads out, promising to Instagram photos, and we make a beeline for Banana Republic. Turk wants to see how her “merch” is selling.
11:30 am Banana Republic, The Grove, LA
Turk’s first collaboration with the mega retailer (which she worked on with BR creative director/EVP of design Simon Kneen)—a 60-piece capsule collection of summer separates and accessories, many featuring her trademark kaleidoscopic prints—debuted to much fanfare. “It was crazy. Ladies were rushing the clothes, grabbing armloads,” she says of the launch party in San Fran. Now in the store, she surveys the scene. “Good, it’s very picked over.” Salespeople gather round to pay homage and report huge lines at the unveiling. Turk’s popularity has steadily climbed since 1995, when she launched her company—known for its colorful Palm Springs-inspired aesthetic—with husband Jonathan Skow. Today, it’s a growing lifestyle brand with jewelry, swimwear, bedding, stationery, fabrics and accessories for the home, and the Mr Turk menswear collection designed by Skow. The Palm Springs flagship was recently expanded to better house all the wares, and Turk even designed a signature cabana for The St. Regis Princeville Resort in Kaua’i. (J.Lo and Casper were the first celebrities to use it, landing it in People.)
Turk is satisfied with the pit stop. Next we’ll hit the photo shoot for her Resort Preview collection, called “A Nod to Mod,” but first we grab juice at the farmers’ market. Some brightly patterned tile catches her eye and she snaps a pic. (Turk’s creative brain is always working; later she’ll notice bits of blue glass sparkling in a sidewalk.)
12:45 pm Ahmanson Theat re, Downtown
Rounding the bend toward the Mark Taper Forum, we see two strikingly tall figures: a model preening beside a shallow pool and a photographer, snapping away, in the shin-deep water. “Ah, yes, that’s my husband,” Turk chuckles, as Skow wades out to greet her. “Are you in swim trunks?”
“Yeah,” Skow grins. “They’re Mr Turk.” The duo, who met at the University of Washington, where Turk studied apparel design, are collaborative and playful, weaving fun into the day’s work. Skow throws one leg out and leans sideways, spoofing fictional photographer Laura Mars and making Turk giggle. He shows her the shots so far: a one-shoulder column, a low-backed LBD with sparkly trompe l’oeil bow, a short red sheath. Holiday has a partial James Bond influence, while two of the three Fall collections mine art and film. One is full of chic color blocking and modernist prints inspired by Bauhaus artists Sonia Delaunay, Anni Albers, and Eileen Gray; another, ladylike classics with a twist, drawing from Hitchcock heroines. “There are forwardthinking and classical pieces in each. Our customer comes to us for basics, as well as for more dramatic, colorful things,” Turk says, as she picks a teal YSL sandal for a model in a black and cream jumpsuit. Is a full line of shoes on her to-do’s? “Yes, top of the list.”
3:15 pm Julienne, San Marino
On the way to a meeting with the design team, we grab a quick bite at a local favorite and scroll through her Instagram feed. It’s full of vacation and travel shots—things that inspire. At the office, which Turk describes as “low-glamour” and “industrial but functional,” the plan is to brainstorm for Summer 2013, which has a loose Coachella Valley theme. “Over the weekend, I narrowed down print choices into four groups. I like to go in when there’s no distraction,” she says. “But we need to narrow it further.”
4 pm TT Corporate Office, Alhambra
Inspiration boards dot cork-covered walls, and racks of high-impact hues are everywhere. “We have so many prints, it’s insane!” Turk says as we file into the conference room. “Which are we going to vote off the island?” The team sets about evaluating myriad paisleys, stripes, batiks, butterflies, and more, approving and eliminating. There’s an easy, relaxed vibe as everyone tosses out opinions and ideas. “This one is really cool if we take out this carpet-y segment,” says Turk. Jin Lee, her lead CAD/textile designer, shows how she can tweak it. Another pattern is deemed too tattoolike. A chevron is added, an ikat subtracted (it’ll be used for bedding). Hours of productivity later, it’s a wrap. “Good,” Turk says. “We have a start.”
photography by amy dickerson
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.