New York Fashion Week Preview: Libertine's Johnson Hartig on the "Prettiest Collection" He's Ever Done

New York Fashion Week Preview: Libertine's Johnson Hartig on the "Prettiest Collection" He's Ever Done
Fashion designer Johnson Hartig backstage at the Libertine fall 2012 fashion show.
(Photo by Desiree Navarro/Getty Images)

You know you’re on your way when Karl Lagerfeld buys out your entire studio. Along with the Kaiser, Libertine counts Damien HirstGwyneth Paltrow, and Mick Jagger among its fans. Johnson Hartig split with his Libertine co-founder Cindy Greene three years ago – after winning the 2004 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award and creating collaborations for TargetConverse, and Goyard – and since then the L.A.-based designer has been calling the shots for the label. He’s returned to its roots, deconstructing vintage pieces to create entirely new garments. Hartig took a moment to email ARTINFO about the inspirations behind Libertine’s spring/summer 2013 collection — which will be presented on September 10 — his irregular sleeping patterns before fashion week, and his plans to go to Italy after his show.

What have you been up to this summer?

I spent much of the month of July in Provence, and the remainder working on the collection in Los Angeles.

What are the inspirations behind your spring 2013 collection? What’s on your mood board?

Hmmmm... Hydraulic fracturing, the Bloomsbury Group of artists, thinkers, and writers, and punk rock mostly.

What is your first fashion week memory? 

Staying at the Mercer Hotel and thinking what a real scene I’d entered and getting anxious.

How is this collection different from last season?

I feel like this might be the prettiest collection I’ve ever done with prints, fabrics, color combinations, and the shoes combined.

List your color palette for this season. 

Almost all colors are muted, softer, more watered down hues.

How much sleep do you get when you’re prepping for fashion week?

I was just talking about this! I wake up several times during the night thinking about things that need to be done, so it’s not a great quality sleep I’m getting.

Describe your wardrobe when you’re prepping for fashion week.

Work out shorts, T-shirt, and trainers.

How do you pick what you’re going to wear on the day of the show?

I don’t really – I throw it on at the last minute.

Are there any artists or exhibitions that you’ve seen that have inspired this collection or your work in general?

Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and Sigmar Polke — and the Lucio Fontana exhibit at Gagosian Gallery drove me nuts.

What are your fashion week vices? 

Aside from the occasional binge eating, not much really.

What do you plan on doing once fashion week wraps up?

I have a big birthday coming up next month, so I’m going to Rome to celebrate.

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