Naturally Straub: Q&A with Chrisopher Straub

Homo:Q & A

photography by Consolidated Photo

Fashion designer Chrisopher Straub (yes, from Project Runway) gave us a tour of one of his favorite places.  A secluded nature preserve near his studio.  It serves more than just an escape for this MPLS artist, this is his personal secret palette and garden for inspiration.

Mo: Where are we right now?

Staub:  We are in a nature preserve in Shakopee.  I walk through these trails almost every day.  It's a combination of my getaway slash my inspiration.  I come here to these trails to look at the way the water hits the shore and the way that the leaves rustle.  Even the leaves gathering on the ground, it just totally inspires me.  The colors are constantly changing and that's where I get my color palette from, from nature.  Anytime texture is repeated and pattern is repeated, I think it creates beauty in something. . .. everything has a look to it .  What is interesting is the mix of nature and architecture here.  I mean, it's beautiful.  I love this stuff together. I think it makes sense in the design world as well as it makes sense in our natural world.

Mo:  Have you always been an outdoor enthusiast?

Staub:  It's funny because I don't camp.  I don't climb rocks.  I just like to walk through it and let it exist the way it is.  I remember as a child spending a lot of time going to the pond catching turtles and frogs.  It's always been a part of my life to sort of get away like that. 

 Mo: You're from Minnesota, originally?

Staub:  Yes.  I grew up in Edina.  A couple years ago, I started building a house in Shakopee and I've lived in the house with my partner of seven years .

Mo: Do people ever say, "You have got to get out of the Twin Cities if you want to be big?"
Staub:  Everyone says that this is not where my success is going to happen.  That's even more drive for me to make it happen. I love it here!  I can't imagine living in a big city and having  to drive to a place like this.  I would much rather drive to the city.  Especially with my accessories, I work with manufacturers over seas so I don't need to live in New York or Los Angeles to do all that communication.  I can do all of that right in my home.

Mo: I read in Vita.mn that you are going back to designing men's underwear?

Staub:  Hopefully, by the time Pride rolls around, I'll have the first couple patterns of the underwear done and available for purchase.  I have some booth space at Pride this year, again.  So, hopefully we'll have all that stuff ready to roll.  And it was necessary for me to continue on doing underwear.  I just needed to make it not such a craft product, because when I came really came out with it in 2004, it was meant to be a hand-made crafted one-of-a-kind product.  Well, now that just doesn't make sense with how many people want it.  So, it's a little more commercially produced looking.

Mo: But, you're still proud of the underwear you did in 04?

Staub:  Oh, absolutely.  I did it and it ran it's course and I remember, always thinking before an event, 'Well, maybe people are sick of the underwear?'  And then we'd sell out again.  So, it's interesting how people were still hungry for it and it's just in the Twin Cities.  I thought I had saturated the market, but no, people still wanted it.  People would come back year after year. 

Mo: Cool, and the underwear is men's only or are you going to do some underwear for the ladies?

Staub:  The first round is only going to be men's and I'm working on some women's patters and that will follow soon after. 

Mo:  Everybody loves your women's collections.  Why have you not been working on a men's collection?

Staub:  The men's apparel is really tricky.  The fits have to be right. The cuts have to be right.  The lengths have to be right.  And it's a lot less artistic.  It seems as if the only passable artful men's stuff are classic silhouettes in a unique fabric.  That's really all you can do with men's wear.  Or maybe do an exciting trim.  If you do too much it just looks awful.  It seems that with women's wear you can be as artful as you want.  The proportions can be nut-so and crazy.  The fabrications can be crazy and the colors can be crazy and women can get away with it.  The way that we view menswear versus women's wear makes it difficult for me to have as much fun with it.  I love dressing women and doing frou frou party dresses.  I am going to keep focusing on that, too.  But, I am going to be doing a lot more men's accessories.  A lot more duffel bags and small goods like wallets, coin pouches, and things like that.

Mo: People  still recognize you from Project Runway.  Have you gotten sick of it at all or is still exciting?

Staub:  I'm not over it because I'm very aware that it took Project Runway to get me where I am today, to get the notoriety, and the visibility for people to trust me as a designer.  Until I'm off to whatever the next big thing is, I am fine being "that guy from Project Runway".  That is totally fine.

Mo:  Do you think your celebrity has changed you at all?

Staub:  I don't think so because I have a hard time relating to what had happened on the show.  When I watch the show I don't have anxiety about, "I don't like my voice" or "I look fat" or "I can't believe I said that."  It was, "Oh, I know these people."  But because of lighting and editing and sound and commercial breaks it didn't really seem real to me.  I still have a hard time thinking that was me on that show. 

Mo: You have the Maurices collection that is coming out in late Fall of 2011?

Staub:  Yes.  It is coming out later this year.

Mo:  What is that collection going to be like?

Staub:  It is going to be apparel all for women.  It is going to be a mixture of apparel and accessories and a couple fun surprises too.  I'm not at liberty to discuss until they are in stores. 

Mo:  What else have you got going on?

Staub:  Go to my website and buy my stuff!  I'm going to be at Pride. Stop on by.

Mo:  Word on the street is you're a HUGE Britney Spears fan?

Staub:  I love her. I love her. I love her!  I think all true Britney fans are going to say the same thing.  That they want "Old Britney" back. Does that make sense?

Mo: Do you think that people will ever say that they want the "Old Christopher Staub" back?

Staub:  I don't think that ever was an "Old Christer Staub."   I think hopefully, in ten years, that the "new Christopher Staub" far exceeds the "Old Christopher Staub."

Click HERE to visit his online store!

& Don't forget to visit his booth at Pride!

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