Domenico Vacca's new denim line slips us the Mickey -- and the Piven
We caught up with designer Domenico Vacca at his Beverly Hills boutique on Tuesday to find out why a designer who sold $4,000 suits and dresses worn by the likes of Glenn Close (on "Damages"), Jeremy Piven (on "Entourage") and Denzel Washington (in "American Gangster") was launching a limited-edition, high-end line of denim -- and to see up close what denim styles named after (and inspired by) celebrity clients such as Mickey Rourke, Forest Whitaker and Will Ferrell actually looked like.
"The whole denim thing has been getting quieter," Vacca explained. "For a while, Levi's was big, then Diesel, then 7 [for All Mankind], but now it's just boring," he said. "And my customers have been asking for it for a while." Then Vacca pointed to a skull-cracking wristwatch on the counter of his Rodeo Drive store.
"Like the watch -- when I designed it, it was the first one to have an alligator-skin face. I wasn't going to do this unless I had something to say."
Vacca's new jeans have a lot to say, all right -- all at once and at high volume. The 10 styles, some using Italian and Japanese selvedge denim, are heavily distressed, abraded, embellished, embroidered and appliqued, with painted rivets, quarter-size cutout DV logo buttons at the waist and with pocket bags, inside seam taping and button-fly plackets in the same patterns of Sea Island cotton fabric he uses in dress shirts.
He explained that it took one man 30 hours to properly rip a single pair of the Mickey-style jeans. And he pointed out a signature back-pocket pleat that folded into a tidy diagonal slash (but looked like it could -- with very little provocation -- blouse out like a cargo pocket) and then fingered the three-point "chicken-foot" stitch (named after its resemblance to a chicken's three-toed foot) used to attach the buttons to the button fly.
"I wanted to bring all those little sartorial touches to denim," he said. "People hear the word 'sartorial' and they think all the old rules, but they don't think of it as exciting. I wanted to have some fun using those rules without being limited to the suit."
The jeans, which retail from $340 to $595 and are limited to about 200 pair each, are being sold through his eight eponymous boutiques (other locations include Palm Beach and Bal Harbour, Fla.; New York; Moscow and Qatar), but the designer hopes to expand to Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus in the fall.
Before we left, we couldn't resist asking the designer about some of the celebrity-named styles. "All of the jeans have names of people or places that are cool and unique," he said. "Styles like the St. Tropez and the St. Barts are named after these world-famous hot spots where you would fit in wearing them, and just look at the Mickey -- can't you just see Mickey Rourke wearing these?" (Yes, yes we can.)
And though we didn't try on a pair of the Ferrells (named in honor of actor Will Ferrell) during our visit, we're going to bet they'd make us feel ... funny.-- Adam Tschorn
Photo: Designer Domenico Vacca's new limited-edition premium denim line retails from $345 to $595 and includes styles named after celebrity clientele and locales around the world, including (from left) the Mickey, the St. Tropez and the Piven. Credit: Domenico Vacca.