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In a Benz outfit, precision seems effortless. The real challenge for the wearer, however, comes in person, such as when Benz and Abess leave their New York studio and head to Neiman Marcus in Coral Gables for their regular November trunk show.
“Chris’s aesthetic is sexy in an unassuming way,” says Abess. “At the trunk shows, I get into dressing rooms with women and Chris will pick out things for them to try on and they’ll so often say, ‘I love this and didn’t realize it was something that I could wear and I love myself in it.’ ”
Benz attributes a lot of these women’s revelations to the fact that they are often apprehensive about wearing color. His collections are known for trafficking in the richer, bolder hues of the color wheel, but he’s a bit surprised at the reception.
“Even though our first collection was comprised of a lot of really tonal colors, there were these five really brightly colored mohair jackets that everyone loved and then it kind of snowballed from there,” he says. Benz’s color palette was a completely organic development, remembers Abess, and she laughs that he initially proclaimed that the current Fall/Winter collection would be a “black” one.
“Well, there’s black in it,” says Benz. But both he and Abess believe that if color is the foundation for the line from the start of each collection, it turns out to be a completely different animal.
“Consistency is key in fashion,” says Benz. “A lot of our clothes really do drive home a resurgence in classic American sportswear, which a lot of sophisticated women, especially in places like Miami, cherish and have sort of been missing for a while.”
Chris Benz’s ideal Miami ensemble (from assorted Chris Benz collections):
- a luxe silk T-shirt
- trouser shorts in bright colors
- a novelty hat
- a cashmere cardigan (for air conditioning!)
- candy-colored sunglasses
portrait by ken pao; model's hair and makeup by dale johnson for artists by timothy priano; model: elena kuletskaya for ford models