Carmen Marc Valvo Dishes Out Fashion Advice

In town from New York for a luncheon and fashion show by Saks Fifth Avenue at Oakland Hills Country Club, fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo paused to chat with Hour Detroit. The man who has dressed Beyoncé, Princess Madeline of Sweden, Oprah, and Kate Winslet offered a little fashion advice for holiday dressing.

Your parents were in the medical field. When did you realize you weren’t on a similar career path?

When I passed out on the operating room floor. Well, that almost happened. You couldn’t get away with it today, bringing your son to an operating room, but [Dad] was a big shot at the hospital. He took me to my first operation and the smell … just got to me.

Where did you get your creativity?

My grandmother was a seamstress. … She was always making things and that intrigued me — creating something out of nothing.

As a child, what engaged you creatively?

I was 7 or 8 and I wanted oil paints for Christmas. Also, I used to look at the art pages of books and be mesmerized by them.

What was your inspiration for your Spring 2012 collection?

An ode to America. It was all about the American Dream. In retrospect, it probably had a lot to do with the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. The collection is all about feeling good and saltwater taffy, the boardwalk, and summer breezes. [Also] a few nods to summer country-club soirées and black tie [events].

Where do you seek inspiration?

It’s all around me. I went to the Maldives and I was inspired by the seashells. I went to India and I was inspired by all the earth tones and abstract patterns. It can be a sunset, a piece of pottery, or an antique dress. It’s anything.

What did you foresee as the biggest trends for the upcoming winter and spring seasons?

Lots of fur; knits are very large. Also, leather and lace combinations — the yin-and-yang factor. Structured and soft and structured and sexy. Tuxedo looks for fall. Wine is the color of the season.

What fashion advice can you provide for upcoming holiday parties?

You never have to run the fear of overdressing. It’s such a celebratory time. It’s the one time of year when you don’t have to say, ‘Oh my gosh, she was so inappropriate, it was just an afternoon party.’ It’s the holidays, and you should always look fabulous.

Who is a Carmen Marc Valvo woman?

Self-confident, classic at heart. She isn’t looking to be a Lady Gaga. She’s self-assured and willing to take a few fashion risks.

Any parting fashion advice?

Take something off. For evening, the biggest mistake women make is that they pour on the jewels. For evening wear, when you’re the least dressed [as in bare shoulders], less is more. Let the woman shine, not the jewelry.