Colleen Keller

Colleen Keller

Who or what inspired the name for your collection, Babe?
My great aunt Babe captures the philosophy of the brand. Each season I draw inspiration from different events, images, music and art to form my general design concepts. She serves as a reminder of the principles behind my design and also my business in general – craftsmanship, attention to detail, honesty and compassion.

Who do you keep in mind most when designing?
My friends. When I’m designing, I always circle back and ask myself, would Jane wear this? Would Erin wear this? My friend Victoria has a jacket I made for her six years ago and still wears it to this day. That’s success to me.

How did the fiber science and apparel design program at Cornell influence you?
The program at Cornell was very technical with an emphasis on draping, pattern-making and fit. I currently make all of the patterns for the line and view pattern-making as part of my design process. Cornell’s program also gave me a broader view on the industry and wasn’t just focused on fashion – we studied theory, psychology and technological innovations in fiber science. We also worked alongside researchers and scientists and that definitely gave me a broader point of view on what clothing does mean to us and can mean to us in the future.

What is a must have from your collection this fall/winter?
The Tabby Button-Up – I’ve got every color and wear them all the time.

Tell us about why you have been using Tencel as a fabric.
Tencel is a beautiful base cloth and a great alternative to silk. It has a lovely drape, buttery hand and is more durable than silk. I like that its not as precious, yet still reads sophisticated and polished.

Your line is so sleek and modern, yet also seems inspired by the past. Is this balance something you have always been able to accomplish or did it take a while to master/evolve?
Inherently, I think that is just my aesthetic, but it has taken practice to translate my aesthetic into a physical product. When I first started the line, I restricted myself in design to keep the collection very streamlined and within a certain price range. I’m glad I did that, because I view it as a foundation to build from. Now that the line is growing, I approach it a bit more playfully and have given myself more leeway to experiment with silhouettes, fabric and price point. I definitely see the collection evolving each season and becoming more experimental, but I always want to make clothes that are wearable, elevated and timeless.

What is the most important factor to consider when shopping?
Style. To me, style dictates fit, comfort and also secondary qualities like craftsmanship and color.

What are some favorite styles you are seeing this season? Which do you think will carry on to next year?
Pointed boots, baggy jeans and turtlenecks. Definitely think the boots and jeans will be around for a while, but turtlenecks are harder to pull-off and you can only have so many.

We saw that Sofia Coppola is one of the other inspirations. What’s your favorite of her films?
The Virgin Suicides.

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received in terms of having your own line?
The greatest piece of advice I’ve gotten is “don’t get too many opinions”! Everyone has an opinion on what you “should” be doing, but that is the easiest way to dilute designs and lose your voice. Find one or two people who know you and the industry well, and listen to them. Always consider what everyone has to say, because it can be great feedback, but take most opinions with a grain of salt.

What is in store next for BABE?
Right now I’m working on some accessories, sweaters and custom prints for next winter. I’m fortunate to have some really creative and talented friends to be collaborating with, so stay tuned!