NEW! Creatures of the Wind

What’s in a name? For the line Creatures of the Wind, it’s fair to say there’s music up in there.

Design duo Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters could’ve played it straight when they left the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to launch their line in 2008. “Gabier and Peters” has a nice ring to it, but give the original Johnny Mathis version of “Wild is the Wind” a listen. It’s got a certain ring, too—one that works very well as an abstracted, somewhat undercover reference point for the beautifully moody and hauntingly romantic line that we’re psyched to welcome to Nordstrom the Grove, Nordstrom San Francisco Centre, and Nordstrom.com this month.

To celebrate the launch, we talked to Shane Gabier about the music, climate, and concepts of their current Spring collection.

The Thread: You and Christopher Peters aren’t just business or design partners, you’re partner partners. What’s your creative process like, and how do you bring your shared love of music into the mix?
Gabier: Every season we have to communicate a vibe or a feeling to each other; we talk about a general direction and we each do our own research and then look at each other’s sketches. So it’s about communicating how we see it in our own heads. Music is a really big part of that because it can really quickly define a certain atmosphere. It’s definitely part of each season’s development.

For Spring it was also about the approach to fabrics. We wanted to create something that was vaguely familiar but not totally placeable. So we have jacquards and prints that have moments from Chinese or Moroccan tile and ceramics—the references are there but not really definable.

The music for the runway show was similar; you couldn’t quite place it. That was the idea. You didn’t know if it was old or new; if it was tribal, or something that came from, like, a street musician in the ’50s.

What kinds of music were you listening to as you were developing this collection?
It was kind of all over the place. At first we were listening to some Donald Byrd, a jazz musician from the ’50s and ’60s, but also acoustic Nirvana and other things.

Perhaps it’s coincidental, but those two very American musical starting points seem fitting to me—Creatures of the Wind feels like an American line in the most modern way. It’s like a bridge between East Coast cool and West Coast cool. You’re from Chicago but you’re based in New York; do you think consciously about the geography of your clients when designing?
We actually spend a lot of time in LA; our business partners are there so we travel there often. There’s a kind of freedom in California; there’s an ease to the way people dress there, and we sell really well in warm climates.

It’s sort of tricky for designer clothing to have a real ease to it and to still feel really special, but that’s what we were really trying to do for Spring. We tried to really focus on details—things that might only be super noticeable to the wearer. There are all these special things about like wrapping and closing which were really born out of the idea of being easy and relaxed.

Let’s talk a little more about that connection between concepts and the actual elements of individual pieces that make up the looks in each collection.
Its a continuum; there are extreme ends or poles in terms of ideas and the actualization, but I think it’s a shame when collections are presented but they’re not available for sale—the sort of runway collection vs. the collection collection. It’s important to Chris and I that there’s a practicality to all of it. We do think about how to infuse the original concept or idea into each piece, and that varies from collection to collection but it’s always about how to build concept and wearability into a total look. Sometimes it’s about how the pieces come together as a sort of composition, and I think it’s always the intersection that makes it special.

Shop: Creatures of the Wind

First two images courtesy Creatures of the Wind

—Laura Cassidy