MEET MR. TURK HIMSELF! By Jason Mitchell

 Jonathan Skow & Trina Turk

Jonathan Skow & Trina Turk

“Growing up, I always wanted to be the weird dresser. That was my comfort zone,” said Jonathan Skow, the visionary designer behind Mr. Turk.

Few are the fashion lines that have a hallmark as distinct as Mr. Turk, a hallmark that is all vintage California. Fewer still are the fashion lines that have at the helm a designer as inimitable as Jonathan. There is no confusing him for his tall frame, his signature spectacles and Birkenstocks and, of course, his ability to embody the bold and louche ethos of Palm Springs.

“But, ironically, what inspires me is classic menswear! I look at our collections and think ‘this is something David Niven would have worn!’ I am not Rei Kawakubo trying to create a new thing, I am interpreting great styles that have been around forever and giving them a little playful spirit. But, I am not going any further than what men were wearing in the 60s and 70s!”

 David Niven

David Niven

In our conversation, Jonathan told of being at the opening of the Annenberg Foundation at Sunnylands in Palm Springs. Sunnylands has played host to Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and Reagan, earning it a reputation as a home for conservative Republican thought.

At the inaugural event Justice Kennedy spoke and Casper Weinberger of the Reagan administration was there, too. Jonathan noted: “he was wearing his pink cashmere blazer and plaid pants. He fully looked like something we would have done. Mr. Turk is a rehash of what was conservative in its day!”

By contrast, Jonathan and his wife Trina, frequently travel to Capri with their pals Jonathan Adler (with whom Mr. Turk is launching a new swimwear line) and his husband Simon Doonan. “Everyone of them gets recognized and I am the one taking the pictures! But, last time we were there, I was recognized as Mr. Turk.”

 Jonathan Adler, Simon Doonan, Jonathan Skow and Trina Turk in Capri

Jonathan Adler, Simon Doonan, Jonathan Skow and Trina Turk in Capri

“I am excited that people are excited about the clothes. We’ve been doing it for several years and it is getting better, I am getting better, our fit is getting better, our fabrics are getting nicer and the main difference is that people are appreciating it a little more,” Jonathan said about Mr. Turk becoming a phenomenon, especially among the gay community.

“What can I say? The turning point for the point for the collection was Instagram and the community that embraced it was pretty much the gay community and to that I say “yay!”” Jonathan went on to say: “It is amazing how many gay weddings we’ve dressed. That they choose us to wear for their wedding is exciting and humbling and gratifying.”

But, Mr. Turk has a following among all men who like the attention of wearing something different.

 Ryan Lewis in Mr. Turk at the Grammy's (he won many)! 

Ryan Lewis in Mr. Turk at the Grammy's (he won many)! 

When it comes to the latest Mr. Turk collection – the one that will take a bow at Aspen Summer Holiday on August 25th – Jonathan says: “I wanted to rile people up so we did a lot of skirt suits – kilt inspired, plaid. The collection is still all based in something masculine, but with a lot of caftans, a lot of matchy-matchy floral shirt with floral pant and floral jacket. Just trying to push it a little bit.”

Where he really pushes, especially “our buttons,” is in swimwear. “It has a nostalgic feel, you know Bond, Sea Hunt or Tarzan!” He says laughing. “I wear it every day because I am a competitive swimmer.” Jonathan admits, “Our swimwear is less performance and more on the spectrum of looking good at a pool party!” Looks in the number one priority.

And, speaking of “look” somewhere far out on that fashion spectrum one will find his now notorious romper, which has certainly galvanized fans and, as to be expected, stirred up haters. In so doing, has made Mr. Turk more iconic than ever.

But, for the man and the brand that has separated the men from the boys when it comes to sexy, playful and original clothes, “it is exciting to see people posting pictures every day of them in the stuff. I say thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.”