When you meet Frank Tell the first thing you notice is his boundless energy. Tell’s enthusiasm for design and the world of fashion is contagious. Get him started, and you’ll soon be in a lively discourse that easily seques from his own personal experience in the industry to a much bigger examination on how fashion is a direct reflection of modern society’s mores.
And make no mistake, Tell was born with not only a gift for conversation, but so much more. A deep love of clothing and textiles originated with his early childhood hand-embroidering and hand-sewing garments in his grandparents’ premier atelier in Spain. In addition, Tell was a natural artist as a child painting and drawing. He knew he wanted to pursue this further in school. Barcelona's intoxicatingly rich culture of architecture was where he first began his formal education, with Tell ultimately taking the leap to New York City to delve into fine arts. “For me one realm of design feeds the other. Architecture feeds my passion for lines, simultaneously with art and clothing.”
He learned a lot from each of these cities and studies, but it wasn’t landscapes and buildings he was sketching furiously at every free moment. Instead his unique clothing sketches caught the eye of famed photographer Bruce Weber, whose studio Tell was assisting while at NYU. Weber saw the raw talent and planted an idea that would change Tell’s path forever; “He was the first person who believed in me and one day, after seeing my drawings a few times, finally asked me: ‘Why don’t you start your own line?’ ” That belief in Tell went so far that Weber made a once-in-a-lifetime introduction at Vogue. He walked away with a challenge to create his first collection with one catch: they wanted to see it ASAP. “I designed and cut the whole line in the kitchen and on the floor of my Lower East Side apartment because there was no studio, no team, no proper cutting table. It was a really organic, a make it happen moment.”
And make it happen, he did. After impressing Vogue, at just 20 years old, Frank Tell launched his brand in September 2007 with a lineup inspired by the actress/dancers Josephine Baker and Louise Brooks. Soon all the major editors and a-list celebrities like Madonna, Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow were clamoring for Tell’s pieces. His unique vision also won many awards including the prestigious WoolMark Sponsorship Prize and The Fashion Rising Star Award from the Fashion Group International Awards. Over the years Tell has worked with many bold names in the industry including Vivienne Tam, Threeasfour, Sue Stemp, and produced costumes for films and with the dance companies Leimay and Ballet Hispanico.
Now Tell is excited to collaborate with DESIGNOW on a capsule of modern pieces with his signature cool. With that in mind, it was important that each style reflect the times in its gender fluid fit. “Since I started 10 years ago, my aesthetic has changed. It’s more urban. It’s more street. It has a sense of individualism, but also of inclusion. Now I design for a different woman… or man. For me that is what I believe in, gender inclusion through my garments.”
Discover the FRANK TELL X DESIGNOW collaboration now!