2009 March 27

Boys’ Night

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(NEW YORK) Great news for the fashion boys: Richard Chai’s menswear collection has officially launched, and there’s something in it for you. The designer celebrated his new line at Barneys Thursday night with friends, fans, host Jamie Johnson, and bien sûr, champagne. “People ask, ‘What’s the aesthetic?’ and I just wanted it to be accessible,” Chai said of his first foray into menswear. “People think accessible is such a bad word, but it’s not. I have the 29-inch fashion guy waist, and I have the 34, 36-inch waist for the investment banker. It runs the full gamut.” Certainly partygoers agreed, with everyone from Phillip Lim, Albertus Swanepoel, and Steven Kolb admiring Chai's work.

“I’m known as a women’s wear designer, but I’ve always wanted to do menswear,” he said. “It was always my intention, but it was just about timing.” Chai wasn’t in it on his own, though; he admitted that his brother Eddy, co-founder of men’s store Odin, weighed in on several occasions. “I think he’s the perfect person to give me advice when it comes to things like merchandising and product and price points--and he doesn’t charge me!” he laughed.

The new line wasn’t the only thing being fêted, though. Chai collaborated with artist Ben Jones to create a limited-edition T-shirt to benefit the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation. “It’s an iconic thing that he does, this dog, and I just fell in love with the dog and begged him to use it on this graphic striped t-shirt,” said Chai, who picked the charity himself, of the tee. “What he does is very linear and very graphic, so I though it was a perfect match.”

For Alejandro Ingelmo, the night was something of a CFDA reunion. “We met at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, and we’ve stayed friends,” the designer, who was recently nominated for the CFDA’s 2009 Swarovski Accessories Award, said of Chai. Ingelmo was not shy with his praises of Chai’s menswear effort. “I told him we’re going to do some bartering,” he said. “I’ll give him some shoes if he’ll give me clothes!”

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