Studio Tour: Chris Benz
in the six years since designer Chris Benz left J.Crew to launch his own clothing
line, he has quickly made a name for himself in the fashion world, dressing
everyone from girl-about-town Lola Schnabel to Sasha Obama (who wore a
Chris Benz hand-me-down from her sister). this spring, he partnered with London
bag maker The Cambridge Satchel Company® to design his own range of colorful
satchels sold exclusively at J.Crew. we dropped by his Manhattan studio to see
what was going on—and to check out that pink hair for ourselves…
Creativity At Work 
“Because we spend so much time here, I wanted to create a studio that felt
like a home and was still reflective of the brand,” says Benz, who worked at J.Crew in women’s design before starting his own line in 2007. “The girls in my
studio will bring in their own artwork, put it up on the wall and it just works.
The space is always changing, though, and I’m sure I’ll change it again next month.”

Off The Wall
“I love everything in the studio that has a little story, from the giant blue klieg 
lights once used as props in one of our fashion presentations to personal artwork
made by friends like Lola Schnabel and Danny Roberts,” says Benz.
His most prized possession? It’s a tie between a ship in a bottle from his colleague
Martha and a Chris Benz Ken doll, which was a gift for his 30th birthday. (It even has
his trademark pink hair.)
Pattern Play
For his spring collection, Benz says the girl he designs for isn’t afraid of color. “I
was really inspired by old houses,” he says. “Take for example the garish old and
stained wallpaper in a room paired with the girliest bed linens in your
grandmother’s house. I think there is something really beautiful about that contrast.”
Clutch Move
For the Cambridge Satchel collaboration (we’re carrying covetable colors like
black, crimson and lilac rose), Benz says that the mother-daughter-run bag
company with a cult following approached him about a partnership. (It’s the brand’s first
collaboration with a U.S. designer.) “It was great because the timing was perfect,”
recalls Benz. “We ended up showing the bags on the models in our spring/summer 2013 
presentation.” The Cambridge Satchel + Chris Benz bags have a slightly narrower
shape than the label’s traditional schoolbag style and are versatile. “I love the idea
that you can take off the long strap and carry it as a clutch to dinner,” says Benz.

Photography by Bryan Derballa

To shop the Cambridge Satchel + Chris Benz click here. To shop our entire assortment of Cambridge Satchels for women and kids, click here.

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