LVMH owned DKNY, has been working with New York based young Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne since its Spring/Summer 2016 collection.


To be working as closely together as you two does would be a challenge for most people. Have you always had a strong?
Yes and it’s totally collaborative. We agree on most things because our references and tastes are similar, but there are times when we disagree in which case we defer to whoever feels the most strong about it.

How did you end up working together?
We met at Sean John where we worked together, obviously with a bigger team, but then after we left, we kept in contact. We were doing some private label work for my store, Arrive, which wound up essentially spawning into the idea to do Public School. And that’s really how we started working exclusively with each other.

What is it like to work for an LVMH-owned brand, what are the advantages or disadvantages?
The advantages are clear; lots of resources, a huge network of highly qualified team members, being able to leverage what the group is doing in advertising and marketing, etc.

With regards to the show, what was your starting point?
Our starting point was the idea of tailoring. We were really inspired by this image of Madonna from her Blonde Ambition tour wearing a double breasted, pinstriped power suit with cut outs. Then we starting looking at the late eighties, early nineties sort of super model movements – Christie Turlington, Kate Moss, Linda Evangeliste, Stephanie Seymour, and Naomi Campbell. Bruce Weber and Herb Ritts’ early works in black and white… All these sort of really iconic photographers and models were also inspiration for us.

While talking about the DKNY woman you said: “We always refer to her as a woman.” Well, do you keep the adolescent ide of the woman, right?
Yes, the DKNY woman is someone who wants to be taken seriously, but doesn’t take herself too seriously. She is someone who is resourceful, someone who can figure a way out or in or around anything. She is very in tune with what is going on in the world – not just where she lives, but everywhere in the world. She’s very real; The perfect balance between practicality and aspiration. So age doesn’t necessarily qualify or disqualify someone from this description.

You also said that the DKNY woman is in a perpetual state of progression and discovery. And there are a lot of things to learn about the roots obviously. The pinstriped suit is one of the key pieces rooted from the 90’s. What are the other items that you keep and reconstructed in the 2016 collection?
In general, what we’ve done is really try to elevate the collection, both in execution and in thought. The way that we’ve approached color, fabric development, facric, fit, and proportion is completely different. There’s new sense of attitude spirit in this woman.

In Public School your woman is sexy in her own way with an attitude. How can you describe the DKNY woman’s sex appeal?
The DKNY woman’s sex appeal is not about being overtly sexy. She has a sophisticated sex appeal. She’s real and has big goals. She’s not defined by what she’s done but what she’s yet to do, and that’s the appeal. It’s about her ambition and the way she goes about trying to accomplish her goals.

When you first took over the role of creative directors what was the image of the brand? Do you want to change this image or keep some parts?
When Donna started DKNY, there was this idea of serving the practicality of a New York woman, but still making the brand desirable at the same time. That’s one of the things from the past that we’ve really identified with as something to hold on to. The way that we make this notion our own and make it new is by playing up the tension between the two ideas – between practicality and desirability. For us, literally and figuratively taking those ideas apart and putting them back together creates this deconstruction and reconstruction and becomes the lens through which that new energy will come from.

We must talk about transgender tendency, which is a very common subject in fashion today. Public School collections have a high androgyny in them. According to you should men and women be able to dress more like each other? How wide is the gap between DKNY woman and men lines?
We don’t set out to make things “a-gender” or “gender-bending.” We don’t believe in those terms. Our generation views the idea of a boy and the idea of a girl as a lot closer then people have is the past. Sturcturally, the bosy is different, and those are things we consider when we think of DKNY, because it started out as a women’s brand. There are less strict interpretations of what men should wear and what women should wear. We don’t think in those terms like “androgyny,” we just think about having the most versatility or range to be able to express yourself through your clothes. That’s how we look at it.

DKNY has always been an example for elevated urban sensibility. On the other hand fashion has always been a reaction to what is going on culturally, politically, and even economically. According to you what does today’s fashion say about our daily lives?
DKNY has always considered what was happening in New York and the world around. The idea of being a cultural participant not just from a fashion perspective has been and continues to be something we stand for.

What’s exciting you most about the fashion industry right now?
Subculture and youth culture point of view – I think that’s one of the main inspirations for a lot of designers. For us specifically, we draw on our experiences growing up here in New York – and that’s an invaluable part of our process. But those two things have always been part of it. And I think just the fashion industry and the fashion world is forced to pay attention to it because it’s not about fairy tale – it’s more real. We’re attracted to the realness of it all and that point of view is being more accepted than ever before. So people have no choice but to accept it because that’s the wave of the next generation.

You are juggling two different brands now. How has that changed the way you approach work?
We just try to stay organized. It’s difficult and easy at the same time because Max and I are two people – so if it ever really gets hectic we can always split up. But we strike a balance by just keeping things light and easy, and not getting too serious about stuff.

Last of all, everybody say that you are one of the most talented creative duo of our time. How do you measure success? (Sales figures, popularity in social mediadia… etc)
Ha ha, that remains to be seen… I mean we’ll probably look back 30 years from now at our time and hopefully we can say influentced how people dressed but, more importantly, how they felt about themselves. I think that’s the true measure of succes for us.


Designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, both born and raised in New York City, breathe the inspiration and restless energy from the city they live and work in. Founded in 2008, Public School, which is designed and produced entirely in New York City’s Garment District, is redefining the landscape for men’s tailored sportswear. Chow and Osborne look to find perfection in imperfection, taking classic silhouettes and updating them through a modern lens by mixing high and low references from fashion, music and art into their work. Their signature silhouettes, such as the stretch leather and ponte vest and ankle-length slash pocket trouser, are designed for the culturally convergent modern man. In 2010, Public School was selected as one of the brands to participate in the inaugural class of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Fashion Incubator program. The brand won the 2013 CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear, the 2014 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award and, most recently, the designers took home the International Woolmark Prize. Chow and Osborne started to design DKNY men and women collections last season.