With a somewhat nontraditional background, it’s no surprise designer Adam Lippes brings a truly fresh approach to women’s fashion. The psychology-major-turned-fashion-designer started his career with impressive tenures at Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta before launching his eponymous brand in 2013.

Known for pairing contemporary silhouettes with patterns and trims that nod to history, Lippes says he prides himself on creating timeless pieces for the modern woman. “We want to make clothing that will take you anywhere,” the New York-based designer adds. 

We FaceTimed Lippes in his new NYC studio to discuss his inspirations, designing during quarantine, and his exclusive collection with Rent the Runway. 

To start, tell us about Adam Lippes and how it all began.

I come from a long line in fashion, but it didn’t start that way. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in psychology, I started my career at Ralph Lauren. I then joined Oscar de la Renta and stayed there for ten years as the Creative Director of menswear. When I started Adam Lippes in 2013, the goal was (and still is!) to make beautiful, refined, comfortable clothes for women.

Describe the brand in 5 words or less:

Refined, elegant, comfortable and vibrant.

What was the inspiration behind the Adam Lippes Collective line? 

We love to play with patterns and prints every season. We actually paint all of our prints here in New York City and they’re often based either on a floral arrangement that’s actually on my desk, or around old school interior design. My goal with this collection is to make pieces that you’ll want to reach for again and again and have fun wearing! 

Why are you excited to be a part of Rent The Runway’s Designer Collective

There’s actually very little that’s new in fashion. We think fashion is all about the new, new, new, but we’ve really been doing the same things forever. But then Rent the Runway came along and they’re doing something that is fresh and exciting. They allow people to have fun with fashion without making a big commitment – what is more sustainable than that?

What are your “must-rent” pieces from the Designer Collective line and why?

It’s really hard to choose, but the Pink Twist Neck Dress is definitely up there. The color is so fun and the silhouette is so sophisticated. It’s a dress, but kind of like a dress/blouse – which I think would look great on a Zoom call.

Another favorite is the Floral Side Drape Dress. This is an example of a print that was inspired from an actual bouquet that was on my desk. We work with a florist to make bouquets based on our colorstory. We photograph it in 3D and then print it on an incredible, super soft twill. 

What was designing during quarantine like? How did you change the way you work?

Designing during quarantine was very different. Like everyone else, it was done all over Zoom. It was really a time to discover a new way of working. But with all that being said, it was also a time to slow down and think about the collection and who we are as a brand. We’re working on our spring collection now, and I’ve honestly never been more excited about a collection!

Rapid Fire Questions:

  • Your first fashion memory: My first day at Oscar de la Renta. I saw Oscar getting lunch and I went and sat next to him.

  • Personal fashion icon: Deeda Blair. She’s just an incredible woman. She lives in New York now, but she’s been all over the world. She just amazes me on many levels.

  • The most memorable person you’ve dressed: We’ve dressed so many incredible people over the years, but I have to say, when I spot someone walking down the street wearing our clothes that is the most memorable to me. It’s cool to think that with everything out there, she chose to wear one of our designs.

  • If you weren’t a designer, what would you do? I’d probably be a gardener!  

  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Start slow.

Watch the full Designer Download interview featuring Adam Lippes on our Instagram!