CAMPING WITH CARLOS

By Mercedes Sanchezcarloscampos2.jpg As fashion editors contemplate the outfit that will make them stand out at the most famous tents in New York this week, two days before show time designer Carlos Campos is busy at work in his Garment District office tailoring away.

With the clock hitting 7:15, the aura is one of pleasurable pressure. "It's almost 8:00 p.m. and I'm still making some cashmere sweaters," admits the 34-year-old designer. "And they have to be done tonight because tomorrow we're going to style everything."

If the words read as if they were said in a stressful tone, don't be fooled. Campos was as calm as ever as we chatted away on an ample brown leather sofa to the sounds of smooth music playing off a Mac in the sexy showroom, as one of his crew members made last minute calls to special guests including Manhattan socialites that shall remain nameless.

As I took an exclusive sneak peek of his Fall 2007 men's collection- which has a "from boys to men" vibe and debuts this Saturday at the Altman Building- Campos explained the inspiration behind the line. After watching bad boys like Frank Abagnale and Porfirio Rubirosa who have a clean, classic style on the big screen, Campos remembers how the 1940's and 1950's macho men got away with almost everything.

"They were smart and had a great sense of style," says Campos. "If you want to go to the hottest lounge, or hottest club, they're going to pick the ones with style. In a sense, that is my inspiration- the feeling when you go to a room and everyone's looking at you."

Although this is his men's wear collection, ladies don't be discouraged. You won't be able to take your eyes off the gorgeous models as they rock the runway in his clothes including show stoppers like Sean O-Pry, Nick Snyder and Marcus Hendbrach who have also modeled for YSL, Gucci, Prada and Burberry. Besides, Carlos is a true artist who describes himself "as a designer who happens to be a great tailor." The fall line consists of the best wools, cashmere, silk linings, leather and the best cotton from Italy.

With his father being a tailor, making clothes came naturally to the El Salvador-born, Honduran-raised designer. He's helped create costumes for plays like The Graduate, Fiddler on the Roof, and Jersey Boys.

"I think I'm blessed to do what I do," says Campos. "I cannot explain how I feel when I walk down the street and people think I'm crazy when I'm about to be run over by a car because I'm thinking of something so strong. I feel so, so alive. I wish everyone could feel the way that I do."

QUICK Q&A WITH CARLOS: carloscampos1.jpg

MS: I'm a big fan of Justin Timberlake and I heard he purchased something from you. What did he buy? CC: A jacket that has broken hearts on it. He bought it himself which I thought was really cool because usually stylists put things together for some artists, and he just walked right into the store and liked it. He wore it to a concert and he's worn it a couple of times.

MS: What's one item all men should have in their closets? CC: A good suit- not necessarily a black suit. But a suit that will make him feel powerful. When I have my suit on I feel like, "OK. Where should I go now?"

MS: And women? CC: A good man- just kidding (laughs). A good coat. I get recognition with my outerwear because of its cuts and threads. You could have cute little things here and there, but with things you use all the time like a coat, should be great.

MS: So with fashion week almost being over for you, are you finally going to take some time off? CC: No, we're going to Miami and L.A. Fashion Week, then Mexico Fashion Week. Then we're going to Europe and start all over again. It never ends.

Carlos debuts his FALL 2007 COLLECTION at the The Altman Building on February 3rd. For more info on Carlos, visit CarlosCampos.com