S H O P E X P E R T – L I G H T S, C A M E R A, A C T I O N
Fashion Week San Diego Winner RHCREATION Reveals His Resort Collection
Richard Henderson is no ordinary fashion designer. Bemused by the Hollywood behavior that surrounded him after moving here from Belize at 16, Henderson determined that his artistic upbringing would fit perfectly in the area’s fashion industry. And so, he obtained his degree in fashion design, and at the young age of 19 was selected by Shelli Segal to become her assistant. Now, we’ve featured several fashion savants in our spreads, but none who was one of Shelli Segal’s first protégés! You know— the Shelli Segal whose line, Laundry, is one of the top-selling women’s lines in America? Twenty-five years after his employment with this legend, Henderson has finally brought his first fashion label to life with the introduction of RHCREATION, a resort wear line that suits Southern California splendidly, and thus, is quickly cementing his status in the industry. The coveted release promptly captured the attention of San Diego’s socialites at last year’s Fashion Week San Diego, and RHCREATION came home with the win.
Henderson and his business partner, Timothy McGee, who also has a strong connection to art, combined their creativity 10 years ago and launched a T-shirt brand called RAHTM. Now, after winning Fashion Week San Diego 2013 and years of successful sales together, the only way to go for this talented twosome is up. The RHCREATION collection is hot off the runway and ready to wear to the beach this summer, so, listen up, ladies—you’re going to want to find out how to get your hands on these prismatic pieces.
Q: When did you start pursuing fashion as a profession and what or who inspired you?
Richard Henderson: The art and the passion for it is something that has always been in my blood. I was very artistic in elementary school; I was always painting and drawing, and it’s something I’ve been doing ever since. I started pursuing fashion over 25 years ago, and I think just growing up in a very artistic family is what really got me into it. I came to America from Belize when I was 16, and I really wanted to get into fashion after seeing the Hollywood lifestyle.
Q: I read that you assisted Shelli Segal for seven years. Tell us about some of your experiences there and how that has shaped you as a designer.
RH: I went to school for a bachelor’s degree in fashion design, and in my last semester of school, I was in a fashion show, which she attended, and she handpicked me from the graduating class to be her assistant. So prior to my graduation, she asked me to come work for her. Ever since then, I’ve been in the fashion industry. I was very influenced by the way Shelli worked—the way she coordinates a group and puts pieces together, like the styling and the merchandising of the line, helped me so much. And we’re still friends to this day.
Q: Tell me about your current collection. What was the inspiration?
RH: The collection itself is mostly about colors, and that’s because I love to work with color and also prints. I love the tropical feeling, and I wanted to do a resort collection simply because of where I’m from, combining that with the lifestyle feel of San Diego and neighborhoods like La Jolla. So, my business partner, Timothy McGee and I decided to merge the two together to get into Fashion Week San Diego.
The collection is also about construction—I know where to hide certain things and where to show certain things. It’s not always about a gown that’s extremely tight and fitted in which you have to lose 20 pounds before wearing it. It’s more about small little details like revealing a little skin at the shoulder, a peekaboo at the neckline or showing a little leg. RHCREATION is accessible to every woman, lending itself to a size 0 or a size 24.
Q: Is this your first full collection?
RH: Yes, is its.
Q: How did it feel seeing your collection coming down the runway for the first time?
RH: It was great, and winning, of course, made it even more exciting and great. What I really like about it is that it lends itself to the lifestyle of the area.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve ever designed for?
RH: We have a contract with the Miss Belize Organization, so we dress the winner when they go to international pageants like Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International, and we do their costumes as well. We have also done several gowns for celebrities, which have been worn on the red carpet at the Daytime Emmy Awards, the BET Awards, Miss California and Latina pageants, so we have done a lot of other things.
I think what is so special about RHCREATION resort wear is that it’s a little different than all the other resort wear that you see out there, because you can take it from a pool to a party or from a resort to a restaurant—it’s not just your basic square kimono cover up. Most of my pieces, if you do it in a different fabric or different silhouette, bypass the swimsuit and do it in a non-sheer material; it could walk a red carpet as an evening gown. That’s my style.
Q: Can you take us through a typical workday in the life of a fashion designer?
RH: I would say I love to be creative. It’s very important to get your stuff out there in terms of marketing, but I have so many ideas, that I just want to create. My typical day is coming up with new silhouettes, new shapes and new ideas. With my experience of being in the garment industry for over 25 years, you have to know construction. I have a very strong knowledge of that.
Q: Describe your personal sense of style.
RH: Me personally, I am more of a laid back type of a guy; I am not the designer who is flamboyant—that’s going to take away from what I’m designing for my customer. I go shopping in the stores, and I do not look in the menswear department, I don’t like to shop for myself. I don’t care—just give me jeans and a shirt. I spend 95 percent of my time scouting the women’s department, because that’s whom I’m trying to dress.
Q: What is your favorite piece in your current collection and why?
RH: The final piece of the runway show is my favorite, simply because of the way that it was constructed—I don’t want to give away my secrets or anything, but it’s basically three squares sewn carefully together. It all has to do with architecture and how the fabrics are sewn together. The yellow dress with the high-low hemline is also very popular. I added the detail at the neckline, and it’s easy and flowy, so I would say those are my two favorite pieces from the collection.
Q: How did it feel to win Fashion Week San Diego and has that impacted the growth of your label RHCREATION?
RH: It was a great experience. The night that we showed the collection was amazing! Coming from backstage—we got bombarded by media and press, and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. It already felt like we won, but there was still another night with 10 more designers. We have gotten a lot of press out of it, and our next step is a matter of getting it out there to the right people and the right buyers. The name itself is getting out there thanks to Fashion Week San Diego.
Q: Who is your fashion muse?
RH: My favorite designer is Gianfranco Ferré. I used to admire his collections back in my days of school—the way he would show his girls on the runway and the fluidity with which his garments moved. From the age of 18 or 19, I was always inspired by his style and his presentation.
Q: Do you have any advice for our bourgeoning fashionistas and fashionistos?
RH: I would tell them to be themselves. I think a lot of the students that I see try to be extremely avant-garde and theatrical, which is great, but in all reality, you want to do what the general public will buy. You have to be able to mix the two together. You do the editorial and over the top designs after you have retail success.
Q: Where can we find your designs?
RH: We are working on a few boutiques at the moment, but we do have an e-Bay store. There are over 60 or 70 pieces available for purchase on the e-Bay store, which is linked off our website, Facebook and Twitter.
Q: What can we expect from your next collection? Do you intend to remain focused on resort wear?
RH: I will be focusing on the resort wear style, but what I am working on now is a little bit cleaner with more of a shape to it. The looks themselves have a very constructed look, yet they’re not like anything that’s ever been seen before. I am almost finished with Spring 2015, which we’re going to preview at Fashion Week San Diego in October.