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Designer Spotlight: Geren Lockhart (of Geren Ford)

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Geren Lockhart, the designer behind the indie-label Geren Ford, began her professional career in design with a pair of simple, drawstring trousers. They became a source of accolades among friends and passers-by, with constant custom requests, so Lockhart decided to conceptualize a luxurious loungewear line. Since many of her clients were wearing the loungewear pieces on the street, however, Lockhart shifted gears toward an inclusive lifestyle line. Her collections frequently incorporate flowing silks, and when considering her loungewear beginnings, it's easy for one to envision how comfortable her clothing might be. She describes her line as "wearable luxury," epitomized by her signature kimono dress; it sports miles of extravagant style, with the ease of a jersey dress.

"It's chic and sexy without being overt," she further explains of her label's essence. "If there's a ruffle, it's feminine but not girly" -- like in her Ruffle Neck Top (pictured above right, $246, available at Shopbop.com), which transmutes the typically "girly" ruffle into a structured, standup collar.

"Hopefully you're wearing the clothes on vacation," she muses of its chic utility. Traveling with Geren Ford on your back actually makes quite a bit of sense, since the designer is frequently inspired by her surroundings while on trips. "My brain isn't running a company when I travel," she says. "It's open to other things. A pattern might come off the back of a truck in Turkey, and I'll work with a graphic designer (to incorporate it)." The majority of her online shopping is devoted to unearthing vintage gems and housewares, which include many "inspiration and reference" items. She is currently digging a 6-by-6 foot, blue-and-black scarf ("I want to put it on everyday") that she imagines might influence her designs a few seasons down the road. The idea of the scarf, along with the numerous photos, clippings, and more that she accumulates, get filed away in an "inspiration folder".

"When I start designing a collection, I troll through my inspiration folder to see what the story is that I've started to tell," she explains. "There's images of books, buildings ... I try really hard not to look at the trend thing, I don't want it to influence me. Because when I have an image in my head, I can't forget it."

Along with her inspiration pieces, Lockhart will also shop for herself, favoring vintage YSL above all other designers. And like many savvy shoppers, she knows that sometimes you quite literally stumble upon the greatest discoveries. "I was walking down the street in Soho, and happened on the last real Helmut Lang-designed sample sale ever," she says, excited and proud even to this day. "I found the perfect black denim jacket for $50. I literally called everyone I knew and told them about it."

A woman who knows the excitement of getting a deal on a designer piece is naturally the perfect candidate for a diffusion line at a mass retailer. Seasoned fans and intrigued newbies alike will be thrilled with Hawks by Geren Ford, which hit Urban Outfitters this month. The Hawks collection, which features the same design sensibility as the main line, will be priced $48-$128. Two standout pieces (pictured right) include a sweet jumper and a sage-colored Sailor Dress, the latter of which looks very similar to a dress from her main line and is currently available. Lockhart says she is excited about the ability to reach out to a younger, fashion-conscious audience by way of Urban Outfitters' widespread customer base. The collaboration will be ongoing, with new pieces continually being released throughout the year, allowing these new customers to form a "consistent, reliable attachment to the brand," she explains. "They can become a fan for a lot less money."

While the Hawks collection is slowly unveiled at Urban, intrigued readers can dabble in mainline Geren Ford, in-store and online; Shopbop.com, ManeaterThreads.com, Barneys, Singer22.com, and RevolveClothing.com, among many others, carry the brand. Some current standout pieces include this Teal Silk Henley Blouse ($140, Bluefly.com), Cap Sleeve Jacket ($297, Tobi.com), and Oxford Dress Shirt ($245, Shopbop.com).

Ultimately, Lockhart believes the varying price points are irrelevant when it comes to her vision for the brand. "My target isn't about an age or a body type or a certain socio-economic level," she explains. "It's about your thinking. (A Geren Ford fan) has her own innate sense of style. She's classic enough and forward enough, and the girl thinks for herself -- someone who isn't necessarily driven by trends. That person that you all know that has her own sense of style and makes smart decisions."

-- Lindsay Sakraida

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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