Designer Joseph Altuzzara Discusses His First Job & How Fashion Has Changed In Last 10 Years

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Joseph Altuzarra poses with models wearing his designs
Joseph Altuzarra poses with models wearing his designs

Photo Credit: Natalie Schrik for Drew Altizer Photography

Neiman Marcus recently opened a new boutique dedicated to womenswear designer, Joseph Altuzzara. Located on the second floor of its San Francisco  flagship, the Altuzzara section features a luxe collection of tailored blazers, fashion forward printed dresses, and pretty feminine blouses. To celebrate the launch, Neiman Marcus hosted a reception in honor of Altuzarra at The Rotunda, it’s beloved 5th-floor restaurant. Guests were invited to a discussion between Altuzzara and stylist Katie Quinn. During the talk, Alturzzara was candid about how he got his start and shared how fashion has changed over the past ten years. Here is what he had to say.

The new Altuzzara boutique
The new Altuzzara boutique

Photo Credit: Natalie Schrik for Drew Altizer Photography

On his connection to San Francisco:

“I am delighted to be here. My family’s from here in San Francisco, and it’s always such a pleasure to come back. To be here with my team, and my mom and my brother, to join me here today, it’s a real treat. And to be with all of you. Thank you so much for the warm welcome.”

On his lifelong love for clothes:

“I was always drawn to clothes. From the very beginning, I always liked drawing women in clothes,  I started sketching very early. I drew a lot. My first sketches—I actually found them pretty recently, as I was rifling through my stuff—were princesses and figure skaters. Thankfully, I moved past figure skaters, but I’ve always been very artistic, and I’ve always loved drawing.”

Altuzarra's Kleber fishnet long-sleeve bandana-print midi dress
Altuzarra’s Kleber fishnet long-sleeve bandana-print midi dress

On how he got his first job, at Marc Jacobs, by accident:

“My senior year [of Swarthmore College], I sent my resume around to a bunch of designers in New York. I had sent my resume to Marc Jacobs, and later learned that they had an intern alphabetize all the resumes, and my last name is, thankfully, Altuzarra, so I’m an “A.” I was the first one called, and I was available and then that was really my slip in the door. So I started working at Marc Jacobs.”

On launching his namesake line at a young age:

“I felt like if I didn’t do it now, then I would probably would never do it. I also felt like I really had something to say. I was talking to a lot of women who wanted to feel sexy, beautiful, and desirable, but in a more adult way. We always dress women, and not girls. That’s really the frame of mind we were interested in from the very beginning.”

Joseph Altuzarra
Joseph Altuzarra

Photo Credit: Natalie Schrik for Drew Altizer Photography

On what women want from clothes today:

“Women want clothes that work for them. They want clothes that work for their busy lives. They want things that can transition easily from day to evening. They don’t necessarily have the time to go home before going to the event. Trying to think beyond looking good, which should obviously be an important component, but also what is the end use of this? How is this going to evolve throughout the day? Can this be dressed up with a belt? Can this work throughout the year? All these things have become really important in my process and my team process when we’re thinking about a collection.”

On how fashion has changed in the past 10 years:

I don’t think people want to buy product anymore. They want to feel like they’re buying something that’s designed with intent and emotion. I do think comfort is much more important today, than it was ten years ago. It’s not just an American thing, it’s a global thing. Women and men want to feel comfortable in their clothes. That’s something we as designers have to think about. At Altuzarra we use a lot of materials that have stretch in it, that are wrinkle resistant, and that travel really well.”

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