Zoe Latta and Mike Eckhaus explore the roots of their label and the musical bliss of wedding ceremonies in Document's Fall/Winter 2012 issue.
I met Zoe Latta and Mike Eckhaus, aka Eckhaus Latta, this summer at their slender studio space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. With a successful first collection for Fall/Winter 2012 behind them, they were working out ideas for their Spring/Summer 2013 collection. Eckhaus Latta’s designs are supremely modern, unisex, sculptural silhouettes, often made with handcrafted fabrics and digital prints, and their sense of color is exquisite. Like urban nomads from the 22nd Century.
When I met them, their new collection was taking shape. They were choosing fabrics, sculpting blocks as shoe heels, and a lattice-shaped top was pinned in dress form. They don’t drop names of celebrities, or tell fictional stories to explain their designs. Instead, they have a pragmatic approach, trusting in the power of allowing one thing to lead them to the next.
Troy Chatterton: Did you meet at RISD? What year did you graduate?
Mike: Yes, Graduated in 2010. But, Zoe had the honor of walking three times, from 2008-2010. It’s a long story, but Zoe is only two months older than me, she’s not some cougar.
Troy: Where were you both born?
Mike Eckhaus: NYC.
Zoe Latta: Santa Cruz, CA.
Troy: How much does the neighborhood you work in, Williamsburg, influence your designs?
Mike: Not at all.
Troy: If you had the choice of dressing Lena Dunham or Tilda Swinton whom would you choose? Who would the dream guy be? Some guy plucked off the street, or a specific actor, writer, musician?
Mike: We don’t really have muses. Friends are inspiring, and we find each other as sources of inspiration. But we never think of “this girl” or “that guy.” But I want to dress Grimes, because I’m obsessed with her.
Zoe: Ugh, Mike and Grimes…I would be honored to dress any of those women, but only if they wanted to wear our clothes—as Mike said, the muse doesn’t really work for us or get us anywhere. The idea of someone interpreting our clothes into their own vocabulary of self-expression gets us off way more.
Mike: And Grimes is really too cute.
Troy: What’s the last great book you’ve read? Or the one you’re excited about reading, but too busy working to read?
Mike: Too busy to read, unfortunately, but heard that the Yayoi Kusama autobiography was recently translated in English, and I’m really excited about that.
Zoe: I really wish I had more time to read. While traveling after our last show, I read Susan Sontag’s Reborn, which is a collection of her journals and notebooks from 1947-1963. The book was incredible because it highlighted her perspective during a really formative decade in her life, her twenties, also one that Mike and I happen to be living in ourselves. I probably overdrew parallels, but it was often too eerie. There was one entry that I was reading while on a train from Tangier to Marrakesh that started with her feeling frantic about her lover, career and her 25th birthday, and then explained that she was on the exact same train, we were on the exact same leg of her journey
Troy: Do you play music at your studio? If so, who? Both times I was there, no music.
Mike: Almost always. It’s funny that none was playing when you were there. Lately a lot of WFMU, EDM, and Grimes. Oh, and Zoe’s childhood band Belly Boat, I’m really trying to work on its resurgence. As well as, Pygmy calls.
Zoe: Right now I’m revisiting some Phil Collins; I think our intern wants to kill me… I’m looking forward to the opportunity to perform “Against All Odds” in a karaoke setting one day soon.
Troy: Is there a strong feeling, or influence as you begin to create the spring collection?
Mike: Yes, but not something that is necessarily so clear sighted. It’s more visceral, like a twitching in your skin. Ideas compile in our heads, like our brains are doing a Google search. Everything seems disparate but makes sense together.
Zoe: For some reason, it makes sense together. I think we’re practicing more and more how to trust that feeling, and not try to overcompensate with false or misinterpreted justifications.
Troy: What do you both do to have fun away from work? I know you go to the beach, but what other pleasures do you have?
Zoe: The beach and dancing are so important! Mike’s really good at karaoke; I want to get better. We also have a wedding DJ collaboration. We love music and weddings.
Mike: Yes, weddings are very important to us, especially DJing them. Trust me, we’ll make it truly the happiest day of your life.
Make Up Kate Lee at Starworks Artists. Hair Shin Arima using Redken for Frank Reps. Manicure Dawn Sterling at Starworks Artists using Chanel.