Chris Benz is an American fashion designer. He gained early recognition as a recipient of a coveted CFDA scholarship while attending Parson's School of Design. Benz interned with Marc Jacobs in college, then worked at J.Crew, before launching his own collection in 2007. His signatures include unabashed use of color and texture, and deft use of prints, as well as inventive subversion of traditional dressmaking codes and techniques. His namesake collection is available in stores throughout United States, Canada, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He was inducted into the CFDA in 2009.
Benz's clothes are frequently featured in Vogue, Elle, Glamour and other publications. In addition to his own fashion line, Benz has partnered with Moscot, the upscale eyewear company, to design a line of frames, Pologeorgis Furs and Lancome to design a the "Chris & Tell" Lipstick. His partnership with Redken consistently creates Fashion Week buzz.
Benz's success in the fashion world has led to numerous television appearances, included among them a week as guest judge on Bravo's The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection and an appearance on HBO's How to Make It in America. He is also a regular columnist for Fashionista.com, one of the largest independent fashion websites in the US.
Q1. What was the first record you bought and how did it change your life?
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT WAS C+C MUSIC FACTORY ‘EVERYBODY DANCE NOW’ ON CASSETTE – MY GIRLSFRIENDS AND I USED TO LISTEN TO IT ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY, ALWAYS ON OUR WALKMEN (WALKMANS?) IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. I THINK IT CREATED THE FOUNDATION FOR ALWAYS NEEDING A SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE NARRATIVE. I ALWAYS REMEMBER WHAT MUSIC WAS PLAYING.
Q2. You’re known as the Prince of Color. Is that the reason for the new pink hair?
I WAS SO BORED WITH THE WEATHER OVER THE WINTER, I FELT LIKE I NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING OUTRAGEOUS TO KICKSTART MY SPRING. I DON’T HAVE ANY TATTOOS OR PIERCINGS, BUT IT SORT OF FULFILLS THE SAME NEED FOR ME, PSYCHOLOGICALLY.
Q3. As a regular columnist for Fashionista.com
I LOVE BEING BUSY, AND I FEEL LIKE I CAN DO EVEN BETTER WORK WHEN I HAVE A LOT GOING ON AND I FORCE MYSELF IN DECISIVENESS. I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A FAN OF SOCIAL NETWORKING AND CROSS-POLLINATING WHAT WE DO CREATIVELY AT THE SUDIO WITH A PERSONALITY BOTH SEPARATE AND TOGETHER WITH THE COLLECTION. I THINK IT’S SUCH AN IMPORTANT THING, THAT YOU ALLOW PEOPLE THAT UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT YOUR POINT OF VIEW TO GRAVITATE AND CONNECT WITH YOUR WORK.
Q4. Can you tell me your top ten items of clothing? The classics that you’d take away if you were stranded on Mars?
1. BROOKS BROTHERS BOYS NAVY BLAZER
2. LEVIS 501S
3. HANES TANKS
4. GREY NEW BALANCE SNEAKERS
5. BASS WEEJUNS
6. NY YANKEES CAP
7. CHAMBRAY BUTTON UPS
8. NANTUCKET REDS
9. GREY 50/50 TEES
10. RAY BAN AVIATORS
Q5. How is the evolution of e-commerce and online retailing influencing the way you design and create your collections?
I LOVE THE ACCESSIBILITY CREATED THROUGH ONLINE RETAIL, AND THE ABILITY FOR MULTIMEDIA EXPRESSION AS A COMPLIMENT TO THE COLLECTION ONLINE. VIDEOS, MUSIC, AND INTERCHANGABILITY ARE ALL SUCH IMPORTANT COMPONENTS TO FASHION AND THE ONLINE PLATFORM ALLOWS FOR SUCH A RICH EXPERIENCE BESIDES CLOTHES JUST HANGING ON A RACK.