The fashion industry may be fickle, but Joseph Altuzarra, 30, has managed to capture quite a few hearts. The designer darling and winner of this year’s CFDA Award for Womenswear Designer of the Year is loved for creating pieces that combine French irreverence with an American sensibility (he grew up in Paris and attended university in the US). He also has the chops to back up his namesake collection, which he launched in 2008 after stints at Proenza Schouler and Givenchy.
This month, he gives us one more reason to swoon: a 50-piece capsule collection of seriously sexy dresses, tops, bottoms and accessories debuting at Target this Sunday )(Sept. 14), all priced under $100.
"There’s a high level of sophistication and richness to the collection that represents our woman—confident, seductive and unapologetic," he says of the runway-worthy lineup, "Whether it’s tailored blazers with strong shoulders and a nipped-in waist, or pencil skirts with a thigh-high slit, everything is made with a touch of sensuality."
1. He Appreciates Good Tailoring
"This red velvet tuxedo epitomizes what we do at Altuzarra—it's super tailored with a nipped in waist, strong shoulders and a fitted sleeve, but it doesn't feel masculine in any way," he says. You can wear them as separates—the jacket with jeans and a lace cami, and the pants with a classic black sweater and flats—or together for a look that's "empowered and super-confident."
2. He Understands the Power of a Well-Placed Bow
"Scarf dressing is a staple in the French wardrobe, it's called 'engouffrer,'" he explains. "You can tie this blouse in so many different ways. Wear it undone and tucked into jeans for day, or wrapped a couple times around your neck with a pencil skirt and heels for evening."
3. He Finishes Everything With a Touch of Luxe
Textural elements always add a dose of richness, he says. Case in point: Altuzarra's croc-embossed booties ("perfect to pair with ankle-grazing pants or a sexy mini,") and leather-trimmed belt. "The booties have a flattering, elongating effect on your legs. The belt instantly adds polish to any of the dresses in the collection, or over your favorite trench. The models on set went crazy for them."
4. He Cuts a Killer Dress Shirt
"They're my favorite thing to design because every woman looks good in one, and the versatility is unbeatable," he says. "Wear this cuffed and buttoned to the top for work, or down to the fourth button with scrunched sleeves for a look that is incredibly loose and sexy."
5. He Epitomizes Easy Dressing
"I respond to things that are effortless, such as a wrap dress that moves with your body in a sensual way. This one looks like a kimono, but everything is attached so it’s less fussy," he says. To fancy up for evening, slip into black tights and skip the statement accessories. "Don’t worry, the dress will shine on its own."
The rich red hue of the dress on the right was inspired by lacquered Japanese furniture he found on a recent trip to Tokyo. Feminine yet bold, the orchid print on the dress on the left was inspired by a Chinese silk painting.
6. He's a Master at Mixing Prints
The trick to pulling off print-on-print with panache? Pick different materials in the same pattern family, such as this python sweatshirt and slit pencil skirt. "It lends a textural element that looks rich and pulled together," he says. "Snakeskin works particularly well because it’s exotic, and a lot of women look really good in it."
7. Celebrities Crush on Him, Too!
Everyone from Rihanna to Jennifer Lawrence to Nicole Kidman has graced the red carpet in his effortlessly chic designs. "Whenever I do celebrity fittings, the comment I hear most is that they feel really comfortable in my clothes. Beautiful and sexy, but that they don’t feel like they are playing a character."