A Midnight Rendezvous With Adam Selman
In preparation for the Made To Measure fashion channel launch on Apple TV, we wanted to check in with a few of our favorite MADE designers on a rare break from the hustle and bustle. Designer Adam Selman, who has worked with the likes of Rihanna, Dolly Parton and Amy Sedaris, is an utter treat. If his eponymous whimsical and energetic SS16 collection was any indication, we knew we were in for a long night of laughs and good times all around.
When we emailed Adam about a potential studio visit, we didn’t expect a laundry list of suggestions for activities, including everything from going to the famous Keith Haring bathroom at the LGBTQ center, to a midnight visit to the top of the Empire State building. With photographer Christine Hahn in tow and no time to waste, we headed to Chelsea for an after-hours adventure through the city. Apart from some good old-fashioned sightseeing, we heard Adam’s anecdotes about his start in fashion, his fascination with true crime fiction, and a few stories about Dolly that we can’t repeat. None of this would have been complete without a nightcap involving a large soju-filled watermelon in Koreatown.
What was your Halloween costume?
We were going to be a fucked up Bert and Ernie. Or Bob and Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks. I can just wrap myself in plastic. You could go to where drag queens make pads — you get an electric turkey knife to saw foam if you want to make a fat costume.
Would you rather work at Chipotle or Cinnabon?
I’d rather work at Cinnabon so that I’d still want to eat at Chipotle. I would never want to eat that much Cinnabon, but I love Chipotle.
I couldn’t do what you guys do, being interviewed all the time and having to have your photo taken.
I don’t get interviewed that much that I’m sick of it. I hate doing photos in the studio. It drives me crazy. I found out the Empire State building was open until 2 AM and I was like, this is the best secret. This is fun for me too. Mel actually wanted to go on a date to the Empire State Building. At the studio it’s like, “Oh there’s some thread, there’s a sewing machine.” I’ve been at my studio on 29th street — “Fashion District adjacent” for six years. But it’s still a big jump between what I can afford now and what I need.
Do you do most production in New York?
Yes, most is done in six factories here. We started doing knits in China with one factory that has a super low minimum, so we’re just testing the waters. We’re in 18 stores now, which isn’t a lot worldwide.
What were you doing before your own label?
I was doing costume for this guy named Zaldy. He had his own fashion line when I first started, but then he transitioned to custom costume. I come from that background, as a handyman, patternmaker, anything — I did it all. And then I got poached for Rihanna.
How did you and Mel [Ottenberg] meet? I heard it’s a funny story.
It was Zaldy’s birthday party and we worked out of the Chelsea Hotel. It was legendary — it was like the coolest thing ever. He had a rooftop party for his birthday and Mel wasn’t invited. He saw Zaldy that day but Zaldy didn’t say anything to him about it. Mel found about it later and he crashed the party and we met there. And then we kept running into each other — it’s going on 7 years now. We work together every day and we moved in together about a year and a half ago.
How’s that? Dating can be so hard in New York.
It’s great, it’s so much easier. He travels so much now that it’s nice to have him at home. I’m happy that straight people are into dating apps now. Gay people have been on them forever, since the dawn of time. The Internet happened and gay guys were like, “Oh my god, finally!”
What do you read?
I love true crime. “The People Who Eat Darkness” is a favorite. It’s about this girl who is a British flight attendant. She flew to Tokyo and quit her job and worked as an escort. You have to read it. I can’t wait for the new Mark Fuhrman book. He was the lead prosecutor on the OJ Simpson case and the first person on the crime scene.
You should do a collection inspired by crime.
I’m obsessed. Did you see the John Wayne Gacy art? He was in prison and he made art.
If you could go to dinner with three people dead or alive who would they be?
Anna Nicole Smith, Jon Benet Ramsey and Nicole Simpson.
What do you follow on Instagram?
I follow really trashy stuff like fail videos.
How did you get started with MADE Fashion Week?
We had been going back and forth for quite a bit of time. I tried to do it on my own, but it’s so hard, you need like 60, $70,000 for a show. and that’s doing it really scrappy. We were like ok, let’s just do it and see how it goes. It’s really great — you know, there are like real benches and stuff. You don’t want Andre Leon Talley to sit on a broken bench.
Photography: Christine Hahn
Styling: Hali Christou
Look out for the Adam Selman episode debuting on M2M this week, only on Apple TV.