She’s an actress, singer, the most popular person on Instagram (141 million followers and counting) and now Selena Gomez’s status as America’s sweetheart for Gen Z has been confirmed, as the multi-hyphenate turns designer for all-American mega-brand Coach. This week, Selena unveils her debut ready-to-wear collection for the house, following the sell-out bag capsule she created for the brand last year.
It’s a perfect match. ‘I think Selena’s the ultimate Coach girl. She’s smart and beautiful. She’s really charming and she has a warmth about her that’s really special,’ says Stuart Vevers, the brand’s creative director, who collaborated closely with Selena on the project.
But above that, he puts her appeal down to her authenticity. ‘She speaks to a generation, she’s honest.’ Despite Selena’s particularly heady level of fame, the design process was intimate. ‘I think people have this perception, because it’s Selena and Coach, that there are rooms full of people discussing things, but to start with it was just me and her chatting,’ says Stuart. ‘We connected creatively.’
Since working together and collaborating creatively, the 26-year-old Texan and 44-year-old Yorkshireman have formed a firm friendship and often go out together following the Coach catwalk shows in New York.
This authenticity translates into the clothes themselves, which were inspired by what Selena actually wanted to wear. ‘She’s grown up, she’s had different phases with her style,’ says Stuart. Her directive was a high/low mix. ‘She was like, “I want to have that dressy look, I want that sparkle – but I also want to wear it with sneakers, or throw a hoodie over that dress.” I found that very interesting, very modern.’ The result is an eclectic collection, which fuses contrasting elements with enviable cool girl ease: a pretty vintage-style slip designed to be worn with a chunky cardigan, a hoodie in a sweet lilac shade, a badass leather biker with colourful accents. In other words, the way most of us want to dress now – a bit of this,a bit of that, and a whole load of attitude.
Naturally, bags are also a highlight of the collection, which sees the introduction of two new styles. Tying the range together are the words “Not Perfect. Always Me”. In Selena’s handwriting, the mantra is woven throughout the collection and serves as a motto for modern life as much as a logo for the collection. ‘In today’s world and especially in my generation – and I feel like any major artist would say this – you don’t need make-up, it is just fun, you don’t need particular clothes to be cool, you don’t need to do anything but be you. And I feel like I felt those outside pressures my whole life,’ Selena explains.
‘So it is important for me to always create some sort of detail where there is just a little kindness on their bag. Where they can pick up and it will read “Not Perfect. Always Me” because perfection doesn’t exist. People fight for it and that can be dangerous.’
Stuart is similarly disinterested in perfection and instead prefers to keep things surprising. He certainly has form choosing unexpected collaborations; during his Coach tenure he has teamed up with everyone from Mickey Mouse and Rodarte to Gary Baseman and Keith Haring’s estate. That unpredictability is important. ‘They’re all so different, so unique in their own way and for me that’s the interesting tension – people never know what they’re going to see next.’
Indeed, with Selena swerving into design territory, might we ever see Stuart try his hand at singing? ‘You never know,’ he laughs. ‘Why not?’ Watch this space.
This article originally appeared in Grazia Magazine - on newstands now.