I recently spent an afternoon getting in Alvin Valley’s pants (too easy). In order to get the behind-the-seams scoop on all things trouser-related, I visited the self-proclaimed King of Pants in his West Village studio.
While I love being girly and feminine, I also love a pair of strong, tailored pants. This winter, chic trousers have overpowered the skirt to become the de-facto standard for the woman who means business. It’s just too cold to skimp on fabric – we need our legs fully covered, lest we lose one to frost bite.
Women in pants is a relatively new affair in the history of dressing. In fact it was Coco Chanel who revolutionized the concept of ladies in trousers. Some years later, she has some pretty specific thoughts on the matter:
These girls, you dress them in trousers, they become vulgar, I don’t know why. Maybe because they feel they need to waddle. I stop her, tell her not to walk like that, take the trousers off her, put them on another girl, exactly the same result.
In the countryside you wear trousers, it’s the most useful thing, you don’t get cold, you can get a bit wet it doesn’t matter. I came up with them nearly 20 years ago. I came up with them by modesty, because I find wearing a swimsuit on the beach similar to walking around naked. Once you’ve bathed, even if you want to stay on the beach, putting on trousers isn’t that difficult. A skirt isn’t pretty, a robe is awful, trousers are the best option. You can roll around in the sand all day long. But from this usage to it becoming a fashion, having 70% of women wearing trousers at evening dinner is quite sad.
I have to side with Alvin Valley on this one, and believe that evening trousers are nothing but chic and bold when done right (as Alvin always does). It’s safe to say that Alvin has, if not reinvented women’s pants, at the very least perfected them. Here are a few excerpts from our interview (you can read the full exchange here).
What separates you from other pants designers?
Mostly the fit, how I see women and the construction. Women don’t have to be careful how they walk or sit. My pants become a staple in their wardrobe.
You studied architecture. Does that influence your work?
I do see architecture in my pants. I see pants as engineered. I like them to transform your body, look thinner, look taller and make their life easier in order for do what they need to do in their daily lives.
What do you forecast for this spring?
The palazzo and dressier pants for evening.
Who are your pants icons?
Lauren Bacall personified the ultimate pants-wearing legend. She’s soft feminine and has an edge. I also love Madonna, Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman in pants.
Me out on the town in Gucci wide legged trousers for evening. What have you got to say about that Madame Chanel?