Everyone collects something. Freethinking sophisticates collect Libertine clothing. It’s wearable art. Today I downloaded with Johnson Hartig who founded Libertine thirteen years ago. For much of that time, Libertine exclusively repurposed vintage, one-of-a-kind wears. Hartig would pop some tags and add his own unique twist with painting, beading, and other hand-done accoutrements. Now, though everything is still made by hand by Hartig or his teammates, Libertine also creates “production” and limited edition pieces. Their biggest line of late is that of supercool patchwork and sparkly beaded button down shirts and blazers. The very first production item was their mosaic blazer and it was a great success. Perhaps you have seen them on the backs of New York‘s and Aspen’s finest? Not only are they popular in these world-class towns, but collectistas around the globe with an eye for unique fashion have been collecting Libertine clothing for forever.
My personal favorite is my circa 2004 hand-painted butterfly shirt, courtesy of a collaboration with Damien Hirst. When I asked Hartig how he came to be a designer, he shared that he always wore vintage and always had a knack for taking things apart and putting them back together. Coming of age, he was obsessed with Elsa Klensch and Bill Blass. He continues to be inspired by his favorites: vintage Chanel; YSL; Lacroix; and Geoffrey Beene, as he ideates for all of his lines. Libertine’s very first sale was at Maxfield in Los Angeles and then at Joyce in Hong Kong. Today, you can also find Hartig’s masterpieces at Bergdorf Goodman and Distractions, Aspen, as well as in many other fine boutiques throughout the world. Some of Hartig’s recent best-sellers were his “Wonders of the World” sweater (with the text purposefully running across the bust-line), his Yeats poem sweater and, my favorite — his Pologeorgis collaboration that brought us the “fur of the week.” Johnson’s designs get better and better with time. Keep your eye out for his offshoot line, “Libertine, Libertine, Libertine” and his upcoming lifestyle book in the near future.
WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS?
My process is waking up, thinking about my dreams, writing them down, collecting materials and sifting through data to begin creating. Then I begin creating. Midday I take a nap, and then do it all over again.
WHAT DO YOU COLLECT?
Nineteenth-Century American and English ship diorama’s, contemporary art with an emphasis on Damien Hirsts, Staffordshire figurines, Scottish Tartanware, Georgian mourning jewelry, phone numbers of hot guys, vintage Christian Lacroix, Moroccan village carpets, and driftwood.
WHAT IS YOUR THEME SONG?
“Believe” by Cher.
ARE YOU AN INTROVERT OR EXTROVERT?
Depends on the situation. In a large group I’m an introvert, but in an intimate situation I’m an extrovert.
WHO IS THE PERSON WHO INSPIRES YOU MOST?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PHILANTHROPIC CAUSE?
Art programs and animal rescues.
465 E Hopkins Ave
Photo Credit: Frank Terry